The best writers strive to achieve a style that is so clear that their messages cannot be misunderstood. One way to achieve a clear style is to minimize your use of the passive voice. Although the passive voice is sometimes necessary, often it not only makes your writing dull but also can be ambiguous or overly impersonal. Here’s an example of the same point stated in passive voice and in the active voice: PASSIVE: The net benefits of subsidiary divestiture were grossly overestimated. ACTIVE: The Global Finance Team grossly overestimated the net benefits of subsidiary divestiture.
I can’t tell you how many truly awful letters I’ve had to read in my life. As a former administrative assistant, I was responsible for all the unsolicited submissions to a major New York museum. Artists and collectors all over the country (and abroad) wrote to have their work considered for display or acquisition, and to be honest the decision frequently rested more on the quality of their cover letter than on their work _ which, romantic dreams aside, rarely if ever sells itself.