Even though we work at a university, there really is no reason to express yourself in excessively complex or formal style. So don’t be pretentious, because people will not be impressed. Indeed, they may switch off altogether. The main thing is your message – the content of what you say.
It’s often entirely appropriate to use contractions in written English in an administrative or semi-formal context (isn’t, doesn’t etc. – instead of is not, does not etc.), although you should avoid an overly intimate or familiar tone.
For example, there’s no need for excessive formality in internal communication to students and staff or in internal newsletters – or in a staff style guide, for that matter.
Please don’t forget to register for your exams.
If you’re interested in learning more, please contact….
Express yourself politely in written communication, especially when asking or directing other people to do something.
Danish passives such as Feltet udfyldes… eksamensbeviset vedhæftes… translate to ’Please + imperative’:
Please fill out the form
Please attach your diploma..
Venligst translates to ‘Please + imperative’ or ‘We kindly ask you to…’:
We kindly ask you to attach your resume.
Attach kindly your resume.
In non-academic writing, avoid unnecessary nominalisation. When you turn a verb into a noun, you nominalise it (The word ‘nominalisation’ is actually a good example of a nominalisation!).
Like the passive voice, nominalisation shifts the focus of the sentence from the actor to the action, which can make your text sound overly impersonal, formal and/or wordy.
The recession caused the property market to collapse.
The recession was the cause of the collapse of the property market.
The committee investigated the case.
The committee undertook an investigation of the case.
It’s often entirely appropriate to use personal pronouns (I, you, we, he etc.) in administrative/official contexts, although again it would be wise to avoid over-using them.
I would be happy to send you more information.
You are welcome to contact us directly at xxxx.
We would like to emphasise that the deadline is final.
The passive voice often produces an excessively formal style; the active voice is generally preferable unless you really want or need to conceal who the sender of the message is.
This is particularly important to keep in mind when translating Danish passives.
Du bedes venligst vedlægge...
We kindly ask you to attach…
You are kindly asked to attach…