Orwell’s 6 Rules of Writing

Based on Politics and the English Language

  1. Just like one should never throw the baby out with the bathwater, one should never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which they are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use excessively lengthy vocabulary in situations in which a rather abbreviated term would do.
  3. If it is possible to remove a word, always.
  4. The passive should never be used when the active can be employed.
  5. Never use foreign phrases, academic argot, or discipline-specific parlance when an everyday English word is the mot juste.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than being a grammatical pedant.



4 thoughts on “Orwell’s 6 Rules of Writing

  1. Why didn’t you use the version straight from the “Politics and the English Language” original?

    Here’s Johnson’s adaptation:

    (i)Avoid using metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Think of fresh ones wherever you can.

    (ii) Prefer short words to long ones.

    (iii) Try cutting a lot of your word-count, especially those words that add little extra meaning.

    (iv) Don’t over-use the passive voice. And whether passive or active, be clear who did what to whom.

    (v) Prefer everyday English to foreign, scientific or jargon words.

    (vi) Good writing is no place for the tyrant. Never say “never” and always avoid “always”, or at the least handle them with care. Overusing such words is an invitation for critics to hold you to your own impossible standard


  2. Tyson Seburn says:

    Interestingly, I used to use a lesson called ’30 Curious Rules of Writers’ which included these and a bunch more… same vibe.

Comments are closed.