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Chapter 11 Writing Effective Sentences. Good tech communication sentences should be clear, correct, and graceful Structuring effective sentences Choosing.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 11 Writing Effective Sentences. Good tech communication sentences should be clear, correct, and graceful Structuring effective sentences Choosing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 11 Writing Effective Sentences

2 Good tech communication sentences should be clear, correct, and graceful Structuring effective sentences Choosing the right words and phrases 2Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

3 Use lists. Emphasize new and important information. Choose an appropriate sentence length. Focus on the “real” subject. Focus on the “real” verb. Use parallel structures. Use modifiers effectively. 3Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

4 Set off each listed item with a number, a letter, or a symbol (usually a bullet). Break up long lists. Present the items in a parallel structure. Structure and punctuate the lead-in correctly. Punctuate the list correctly. 4Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

5 We recommend that more work on heat- exchanger performance be done with a larger variety of different fuels at the same temperature, with similar fuels at different temperatures, and with special fuels such as diesel fuel and shale-oil-derived fuels. 5Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

6 We recommend that more work on heat- exchanger performance be done with a larger variety of different fuels at the same temperature with similar fuels at different temperatures with special fuels such as diesel fuel and shale-oil- derived fuels 6Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

7 We recommend that more work on heat- exchanger performance be done (1) with a larger variety of different fuels at the same temperature, (2) with similar fuels at different temperatures and, (3) with special fuels such as diesel fuel and shale-oil-derived fuels. 7Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

8 Set off each listed item with a number, a letter, or a symbol (usually a bullet). Break up long lists of 10 or more items. Present the items in a parallel structure. Starts with a verb phrase 8Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

9 Structure and punctuate the lead-in correctly. If lead-in is independent clause, use a colon Following are the three main assets: If lead-in is dependent clause, use dash or no punctuation The committee found that the employee– The committee found that the employee Punctuate the list correctly. items are phrases The items are complete sentences. Others. See page Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

10 Place new information at the end of the sentence. Because of labor shortages, we expect a three week delay. Three week delay is the new information. Do not end the sentence with information that blunts the impact of the new information. The joint could fail under special circumstances. (Weak) Under special circumstances, the joint could fail. (Better) Put new or difficult terms at the end of the sentence. You use a wired glove to point to objects. (Weak) To point to objects, you use a wired glove. (Better) 10Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

11 Average sentence length of 15 to 20 words Use variety of lengths 10 words is too choppy Series of 35+ word sentences is too demanding Succession of same length sentences too monotonous Avoid overly long sentences Break apart or use lists Avoid overly short sentences Combine sentences 11Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

12 Don’t bury the real subject in a prepositional phrase. The weak subject will hide the real subject. Weak: The use of this method would eliminate the problem of motor damage. Strong: This method would eliminate the problem of motor damage. Weak subjects usually precede the of. Reduce number of expletives (there is, it is, there are). 12Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

13 Watch out for inappropriate verb nominalizations. Verbs turned into nouns Weak: Each preparation of the solution is done twice. Strong: Each solution is prepared twice. Search for character strings such as tion, ment, sis, ence, ing, and ance. 13Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

14 Coordinated elements follow same grammatical form Verb form Nonparallel: Our present system is costing us profits and reduces our productivity. Parallel: Our present system is costing us profits and reducing our productivity. Overlap in a series of items Overlapped: The speakers will include partners of law firms, businesspeople, and civic leaders. The speakers will include businesspeople, civic leaders, and partners of law firms. 14Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

15 Distinguish between restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers. Avoid misplaced modifiers. Avoid dangling modifiers. 15Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

16 Avoid misplaced modifiers because placement may determine the meaning of the sentence Only Turner received a cost-of-living increase last year. No one else received one Turner received only a cost-of-living increase last year. Didn’t receive a merit increase Turner received a cost-of-living increase only last year. Received as recently as last year Turner received a cost-of-living increase last year only. No other year 16Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

17 Select an appropriate level of formality. Be clear and specific. Be concise. Use inoffensive language. 17Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

18 Two problems with informal writing Informal writing tends to be imprecise. Informal writing can be embarrassing. Consider audience, subject and purpose More formally to executives than students, etc. More formally about serious subjects such as safety procedures vs. office party More formally in a formal report than a newsletter Err on the side of formality! 18Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

19 Levels of Formality 19Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

20 Active vs. passive voice (pp ) Active: Dave drove the launch vehicle. Passive: The launch vehicle was driven by Dave. In most cases, active voice is better Emphasizes the agent Shorter sentences Passive better in four cases: 1. Agent is clear from the context 2. Agent is unknown 3. Agent is less important than action 4. Referencing the agent is inappropriate 20Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

21 Be specific Use precise words Ford Taurus is an automobile, a vehicle, a machine, and a thing. Provide adequate detail An engine on the plane experienced some difficulties. (Which engine, what plane, what kind of difficulties?) Avoid ambiguity After stirring for 10 seconds, add three drops of the iodine mixture to the solution. (stirring what?) 21Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

22 Use jargon (shoptalk) only with a technically knowledgeable audience. cold-swap the drive Avoid unnecessary jargon because: It can be imprecise. It can be confusing. It is often seen as condescending. It is often intimidating. 22Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

23 Use positive constructions: what something is instead of what something is not most vs. not all few vs. not many on time vs. not late Avoid long noun strings. Preregistration procedures instruction sheet update Fine if the reader understands them: Flat-panel monitor, passive-restraint system 23Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

24 Avoid clichés. thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope, mission critical, paradigm shift Good writing is original and fresh. Avoid euphemisms (polite way of saying something offensive) use the restroom dehiring, downsizing, personnel surplus reduction 24Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

25 Avoid obvious statements. The market for the sale of flash memory chips… Better: The market for flash memory chips… Avoid fillers. Commonly used in speech: basically, essentially, sort of, kind of Redundant expressions: collaborate together, past history, end result, completely eliminate 25Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

26 Avoid unnecessary prepositional phrases. The increase in the number of students enrolled in the materials-engineering program at Lehigh University is a testament to the regard in which that program is held by the university's new students. (Better version on p. 242) Avoid wordy phrases (Table 11.1) a majority of vs. most a number of vs. many, some Avoid pompous words (Table 11.2) Advise vs. tell; initiate vs. begin 26Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

27 Let’s be PC!!! Replace the male-gender words with non-gender-specific words. Chairperson, businessperson, firefighters Switch to a different form of the verb. Sexist: The operator must pass rigorous tests before he is promoted. Better: The operator must pass rigorous tests before being promoted. Plural: Operators must pass rigorous tests before they are promoted. Switch to he or she, he/she, s/he, or his or her. Address the reader directly. You, your Alternate he and she. 27Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

28 Refer to the person first, the disability second. People with mental retardation rather than the mentally retarded people Don't confuse handicap with disability. Don't refer to victimization. A person with AIDS not an AIDS victim Don't refer to a person as "wheelchair bound" or "confined to a wheelchair." Don't refer to people with disabilities as abnormal. 28Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences

29 Use short sentences. Use the active voice. Use simple words. Include a glossary. Use words that have only one meaning. Use pronouns carefully. Avoid jokes, puns, and culture-bound references. 29Chapter 11. Writing Effective Sentences


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