Writing for the United Nations


IX. Some last tips


In closing, here is some final advice to help you to produce a perfect report!

When you have finished writing, take some time to read your report through carefully and revise it. It is always a good idea to put your work aside and do something else for a while. It is very easy to miss mistakes in your own work. Here are some other tips:

  • It helps to read the report aloud.
  • Read line by line, trying to concentrate on every word.
  • Read your report several times, looking for specific errors (tenses, for example, or spelling errors).
  • Edit for clarity and conciseness, remembering the seven rules.
  • Do not rely entirely on the spell checker - use the list of frequent spelling errors on the UNOV/UNODC Intranet (click on "Writing for the United Nations") and remember to look for typos that the spell check will not notice ("Untied Nations", for example).

Some useful books

There are some excellent books to help you to become a better writer. Some you might use just to check a point of grammar. Others you might read for fun! Here are just a few to look for.

James Cochrane, Between You and I: a Little Book of Bad English (Naperville, Illinois, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2004).

Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (New York, Gotham Books, 2003).

Fowler's Modern English Usage, R.W. Burchfield, editor, revised 3rd edition (New York, Oxford University Press, 2004).

Ernest Gowers, The Complete Plain Words (Boston, David R. Godine, 2002).

The Economist Style Guide: A Concise Guide for All Your Business Communications (New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996).

William Strunk, Jr., E.B. White and Roger Angell, The Elements of Style, 4th edition (New York, Pearson Higher Education, 2000).

Marjorie E. Skillin, Words into Type, 3rd edition (New York, Prentice Hall, 1974).


Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition (New York, Oxford University Press, 2011).

Note: The twelfth edition is the current authority for spelling in the United Nations. The spelling list supplements and indicates exceptions to the twelfth edition.



United Nations Editorial Manual Online

[Final page]

  | I. Introduction | II. Reader and purpose | III. Pre-writing techniques | IV. Standard report formats | V. Sentence and paragraph development | VI. Clarity in writing | VII. Writing a summary | VIII. Writing conclusions and recommendations | IX. Some last tips |  

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