On good and gobbledygook writing

Rivaling Winston Churchill’s missive on brevity, this 1944 memo by Maury Maverick is the first known use of the word gobbledygook and dishes out some hard truths about good writing:

Be short and use Plain English.

Memoranda should be as short as clearness will allow. The Naval officer who wired “Sighted Sub — Sank Same” told the whole story.

Put the real subject matter — the point — and even the conclusion, in the opening paragraph and the whole story on one page. Period! If a lengthy explanation, statistical matter, or such is necessary, use attachments.

Stay off gobbledygook language. It only fouls people up. For the Lord’s sake, be short and say what you’re talking about. Let’s stop “pointing-up” programs, “finalizing” contracts that “stem from” district, regional or Washington “levels”. There are no “levels” — local government is as high as Washington Government. No more patterns, effectuating, dynamics. Anyone using the words “activation” or “implementation” will be shot.

Via Daring Fireball