When to use passive voice: 8 tactics of professional writers

If your passive voice sentence does not fall into any of these eight tactics, change your sentence to active


This article is part of a series, Report Writing for a New Generation: Merging Technology with Traditional Techniques, which covers general police report writing skills along with plain English instruction, professional and technical writing best practices, and how technology is changing the way officers write.

The series is exclusive content for Police1 members. Not a member? Register here. It is free and easy!

In the article, "Your English teacher was right: active voice is better than passive voice," we focused on using active voice over passive voice. Active voice makes your writing clear, makes your sentences stronger, helps avoid confusion, and reduces civil liability, which is why professional writers prefer the active voice.

But the passive voice, if used correctly, can influence your reader even more than the active voice. Using passive voice intentionally and with thought can help guide the reader exactly where you want them to go.

There are eight tactics you need to keep in mind when writing in the passive. If your passive voice sentence does not fall into any of these eight tactics, change your sentence to active.

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