"...being a natural writer is like being a natural open heart surgeon. I labor over every sentence. I labor to make it seem simple."

— Maya Angelou, 1998

"It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well."

— Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method, 1637

"...the chief merit of language is clearness, and we know that nothing detracts so much from this as do unfamiliar terms."

— Galen, On the Natural Faculties

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I had always entertained a notion, that my want of success in publishing had proceeded more from the manner than the matter, and that I had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion, in going to the press too early."

— David Hume, "My Own Life"

"Observe a method, and make that method conspicuous to the hearers, who will be infinitely pleased to see the arguments rise naturally from one another, and will retain a more thorough persuasion, than can arise from the strongest reasons, which are thrown together in confusion."

— David Hume, "Of Eloquence"

"Every voice is united in applauding elegance, propriety, simplicity, spirit in writing; and in blaming fustian, affectation, coldness, and a false brilliancy."

— David Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste"

"Vague and insignificant forms of speech, and abuse of language, have so long passed for mysteries of science; and hard or misapplied words with little or no meaning have, by prescription, such a right to be mistaken for deep learning and height of speculation, that it will not be easy to persuade either those who speak or those who hear them, that they are but the covers of ignorance and hindrance of true knowledge."

— John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, "The Epistle to the Reader"

"...the clarity of the thoughts should also be accompanied by the clarity of the technique."

— Piet Mondrian, 1909

"I have made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

— Blaise Pascal, "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657

"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

— William Strunk, The Elements of Style

"The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

— Mark Twain, Letter to George Bainton, October 15, 1888

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas — the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."

— Mark Twain, Letter to Emeline Beach, February 10, 1868

"...what can be said at all can be said clearly..."

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

"Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in philosophical propositions, but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries."

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus