Make It Clear: Speak and Write to Persuade and Inform (Book Review)

  “Essentials of Being Remembered” is one of the memorable chapters of Make It Clear. This chapter is an example of how author Patrick Winston has a fresh take on the basics of writing to persuade and inform in the handsome tome that is Make It Clear.

For writing to be remembered, Winston argues that a writer should use Winston’s star to include surprise, symbol, story, slogan, and saliency (p. 15) . So, to remember this review, consider the surprise to be the use of Winston’s star in the review. The symbol is the cover of Make It Clear. The story is that the author was a much-remembered professor at MIT (teaching for four decades). The slogan would be that making writing to be remembered is a great goal. Saliency would be that Make It Clear would be a great choice for teachers to use in a class and anyone interested in good writing.

 The scope of Make It Clear is impressive. It covers both how to write and speak to get ideas across. This includes covering how to organize thoughts and how to approach writing and rewriting. It even covers how to choose an effective type and how to prepare great presentation slides. Winston even covers topics such as defeating writer’s block.

Judge for yourself if you think Winston does a good job of explaining about a choice of fonts when he says that “type aficionados argue about whether serif or sans serif type families are more readable. On slides, there should be so few words and the size should be so large that readability is not an issue with any of the popular choices” (p. 242). I actually like what Winston has to say here.

Patrick Henry Winston. 2020. The MIT Press. [ISBN 978-0-262-53938-9. 337 pages. US$34.95 (paperback).] 

Reviewed by Jeanette Evans