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How not to write: And avoid looking silly

‘The break below 110.14 opens up some downside momentum. The first pivot area to watch here is 109.65-109.38; includes 50% retrace from the Sep. ’16 low as well as a minor equality target off the Mar. 30th high. The bigger level below is down at 108.45; an equality target off the high. Getting to 108.45 might complete a corrective process that began in December and should therefore be an area to watch for signs of a more meaningful base. Worth keeping an eye on prior triangle support, now resistance at 110.14. Getting above there increases the risk of a near-term squeeze.’

‘G3 yield momentum has swung from a monthly trough of -2 percent in early 2015 to the recent peak of almost +60 bps in March, 2017 using 5y5y government bond yields for France, US and Japan (equal weights France, US and 15 percent for Japan). At current levels momentum is still strong at +38 bps. But if yields stay where they are momentum will rise to new peaks of +82 bps in June. Yet according to global output momentum (change in year over year output growth), yield momentum itself should be going in the opposite direction.’

You will never see text like this in mainstream papers. The first piece is written in a stilted style which makes the forecast more difficult to understand. The second piece assumes so much reader knowledge that it’s almost unintelligible. Both authors should know better as they are investment bankers.

Writing about finance is difficult as most people’s eyes glaze over as the subject is deemed boring, too difficult, or both. Writing about technical analysis is even more of a challenge as it’s an unknown subject to most readers. Therefore extra care must be taken.

How to get it right? Start with the basics, planning what you want to say and how much space you have. Set correct spelling and language for the document, being careful not to use American spelling in a UK English text. Write, re-read, edit, write again and proof read.

Avoid jargon, abbreviations, esoteric vocabulary and mnemonics. Careful with punctuation as it can be a minefield, and spelling must be correct at all times – no exceptions! Steer clear of snide remarks and in-jokes and with email, take time out before replying if you are cross. Be aware that with very brief messages innuendo and tone may not be as you’d thought.

Finally, take the time to try and come up with a catchy headline – and a teaser sub-title too; these are what will initially draw your readers in. Why should all this matter to those writing business reports? The unbundling of research and commission income has focused minds on the costs involved. To charge for something it must be seen to have value. Today the larger research houses and banks are snapping up journalists to improve the quality of all their documents.

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The views and opinions expressed on the STA’s blog do not necessarily represent those of the Society of Technical Analysts (the “STA”), or of any officer, director or member of the STA. The STA makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of any information on the blog or found by following any link on blog, and none of the STA, STA Administrative Services or any current or past executive board members are liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. None of the information on the STA’s blog constitutes investment advice.

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