Writing Clearly 3 The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. —George Orwell
Delete or revise ambiguous words, especially those too informal for the situation. Whatever! Sort of Absolutely Really Very Good Kind of Maybe Could have awesome Basically SO 4
Clarity and Complexity Complex: Lincoln’s claim that the Civil War was God’s punishment of both North and South for slavery appears in the last part of the speech. Revised: In the last part of his speech, Lincoln claims that God gave the Civil War to both North and South as a punishment for slavery. Complex phrases and clauses, new information, and technical terms are easier to process when placed at the end of sentences. 5
Complex: Questions about the ethics of withdrawing intravenous feeding are the most difficult. Revised: Most difficult are questions about the ethics of withdrawing intravenous feeding. 6 Clarity and Complexity Here is another example—the more complex phrase is easier for the reader to process when it comes at the end of the sentence.
Check for Repeated Words Become aware of words you overuse. When revising, identify any these and other instances of unnecessary repetition. Using a thesaurus and a dictionary, replace repeated words that might distract readers. 7
Eliminate Repetition A class of beacon mounts has been designed to allow for all three tracking system beacons to be attached to the rig in a global manner. This consists of machining all of the mounting holes on the rig the same and having a method for each beacon type to mount onto the rig using the holes. 8 Repetition of key words, however, can create coherence.
Key Words: Most difficult are questions about the ethics of withdrawing intravenous feeding. Intravenous feeding can prolong life to an indefinite extent, but it cannot always preserve its quality. Without quality, many would argue, life is worthless. Varied Word Choice: Most difficult are questions about the ethics of withdrawing intravenous feeding. Tube sustenance can prolong existence to an indefinite extent, but it cannot always preserve its quality. Without that, many would argue, living is worthless. Create Coherence
Don’t Dangle Modifiers A dangling modifier describes someone or something that is not in the sentence. Incorrect: Plump and juicy, Aunt Gertrude won first prize at the fair. Plump and juicy, Aunt Gertrude’s roasted pig won first prize at the fair. Incorrect: As a teacher, it is important to stay patient. As a teacher, I need to stay patient. 10
Or Misplace Modifiers 11 A misplaced modifier is too far away from the word it’s trying to describe. Incorrect: Plump and juicy, Aunt Gertrude makes the best roasted pig in south Texas. Plump and juicy, Aunt Gertrude’s roasted pig is the best in south Texas. Incorrect: Rotting in the cellar, my brother found the five- year-old potatoes. My brother found the five year old potatoes rotting in the cellar.
Active vs. Passive Voice Active: We have determined the target market to be adults between the ages of 30 and 45. Passive: The target market was determined to be adults between the ages of 30 and 45. Who’s doing what to whom? Active voice identifies the actor. Passive puts the thing being acted on first. Check which style your professor prefers. 12
13 Writing Concisely This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. —Winston Churchill
Delete doubles Delete redundancies full and complete tried and true each and every true facts free gift in a wise manner red in color seven in number long in duration 15 Remove Excess Words
Arrived at the decision decided Is able to can A majority of most In order to to Despite the fact that although Are of the same opinion agree A small number of few For the purpose of to 16 Revise Wordy Phrases From Successful Scientific Writing by Janice R. Matthews, John M. Brown, and Robert W. Matthews
not different similar not the same different not allow prevent not notice overlook not many few not often rarely not stop continue not include omit Change Negatives to Affirmatives From Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams 17
A sentence sprawls when there are many clauses or phrases after the verb. One way to reduce sprawl is by cutting or revising who/that/which clauses. Ex: Teachers should remember that students are vulnerable and uncertain about those everyday, ego- bruising moments that adults ignore, and that they do not understand that one day… Ex: Teachers should remember students are vulnerable and uncertain about those everyday, ego-bruising moments adults ignore, and they do not understand that one day… 18 Remove Sentence Sprawl
Paramedic Method 1.Circle the prepositions. 2.Circle the “is” forms. 3.Find the action. 4.Put this action in a simple (not compound) active verb. 5.Start fast—no slow windups. 6.Read the passage aloud with emphasis and feeling. 7.Mark off sentence’s basic rhythmic units. 8.Mark sentence lengths. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/032 1441699/ref=dp_image_text_0?ie=UTF8&n=2831 55&s=books
The Official Style 20 The National Research Council Space Studies Board, in cooperation with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, is in the process of organizing a decadal survey to establish priorities and provide recommendations for life and physical sciences research in microgravity and partial gravity for the 2010- 2020 decade. Source: Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DEPS/ASEB/index.htm)
Find the prepositions and “to be” verbs. The National Research Council Space Studies Board, cooperation the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the process a decadal survey and co life and physical sciences research microgravity and partial gravity the 2010-2020 decade. Paramedic Method Find the action and simplify : Start fast—no slow wind-ups. in with of to for in for is organizing establish priorities provide recommendations is in the process of organizing is organizing establish priorities prioritize provide recommendations recommend in cooperation with and
The National Research Council Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board are organizing a 2010-2020 survey to prioritize concerns and recommend life and physical sciences research in microgravity and partial gravity. Revision
The Lard Factor Divide the difference between the number of words in the original and the number in the revised version by the number in the original. Original (46) minus Revision (34) = 12 12÷ 46 =.26 or 26%
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