Whether you’re a lawyer, a teacher, or even a zookeeper—strong writing skills are critical for success throughout the many branches of society. If you want your words to stand out in this text-based world, these nine simple tips will help you sharpen your writing skills. First tip: read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B White. It offers the greatest clues for how to write in a sharp, concise manner. Second tip: use the word you a lot. By identifying the benefit you’re offering to the reader, and then working it into a sentence that begins with the word you, you’ll be amazed how much stronger that makes your writing. Third tip: create more powerful headlines. Your headlines shouldn’t introduce a topic, rather, it should make the most important concept clear from the start. Fourth tip: make it easy for readers to learn what you want them to learn. Don’t force readers to slog through stuff they don’t need to know to get to the stuff they’re really interested in. Fifth tip: spell out acronyms (not everyone will know what SPP or SMART stands for.) Sixth tip: eliminate the use of the passive voice. Pepper your sentences with active verbs to make it more lively. Seventh tip: use contradictions. With contradictions, you make your writing more conversational. Eighth tip: create a table of contents that serve as a summary. If you’re making a longer piece of content, a good table of content will make it easier for people to quickly find what they need. Final tip: seek constructive criticism. Ask someone you respect to review something you’ve written, listen to what the reviewer has to say and take the advice. Got it?