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How to Achieve Coherence at a Macro Level Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan Professor of English, Purdue.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Achieve Coherence at a Macro Level Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan Professor of English, Purdue."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Achieve Coherence at a Macro Level Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan Professor of English, Purdue

2 Coherence Coherence describes a writer’s ability to connect ideas and provide information in a fluid and comprehensible way. Coherence is achieved through appropriate lexical and structural choices, but it’s also achieved through a consideration of audience and genre.

3 Principle of Coherence One Know your audience What might seem a completely coherent paragraph for someone with content- specific knowledge may be impossible to read for a layman. Knowing what your reader generally knows will help you make appropriate lexical choices. Consider the following paragraph…

4 What’s Happening Here? On the same day, Zorcon invaded Limlam, making rapid progress by using aggressive tactics. At the end of the month, Norpalese troops were forced to evacuate the continent, abandoning their heavy equipment. On June 10 th, Tak-tak invaded, declaring war on Limlam and Norpal. Twelve days later, Limlam surrendered and was soon divided between Zorcon and Tak-tak. In early July, the Norpalese attacked Limlam ’ s fleet in Zoot to prevent their seizure by Zorcon. Which historical event does this paragraph describe? The paragraph above has been modified from Wikipedia.com. The original can be accessed at:

5 What’s Happening Here? On the same day, Germany invaded France, making rapid progress by using aggressive tactics. At the end of the month, British troops were forced to evacuate the continent, abandoning their heavy equipment. On June 10 th, Italy invaded, declaring war on France and Britain. Twelve days later, France surrendered and was soon divided between Germany and Italy. In early July, the British attacked Italy ’ s fleet in Algeria to prevent their seizure by Germany. The proliferation of World War Two! The paragraph above has been modified from Wikipedia.com. The original can be accessed at:

6 Coherent for a lay person? The freeze and thaw durability test was conducted according to ASTM C 666 (procedure A) using two 75 x 100 x 400 mm (3 x 4 x 16 in.) specimens cast from one concrete batch. The free shrinkage measurements were conducted according to ASTM C 157 on three 75 x 75 x 275 mm (3 x 3 x 11 in.) specimens also prepared from one batch of concrete. The scaling tests were performed according to the modified ASTM C 672 procedure using two slabs (each with exposed area 72 in2) cast from the same batch. The modification of the standard method involved evaluation of the extent of scaling based on the amount of material lost (expressed in pounds per unit area) rather than using the visual rating of the surface. All specimens were cured in lime-saturated water at temperature of 23  C up to date of testing. The only exception was the scaling tests (for which specimens were water cured for 14 days and than moved to curing room kept at 50% humidity and 23  C where they were stored for another 14 days). The results of both fresh and hardened properties presented in this paper represent an average of at least two measurements.

7 Translate to common language: The freeze and thaw durability test was conducted according to ASTM C 666 (procedure A) using two 75 x 100 x 400 mm (3 x 4 x 16 in.) specimens cast from one concrete batch. The free shrinkage measurements were conducted according to ASTM C 157 on three 75 x 75 x 275 mm (3 x 3 x 11 in.) specimens also prepared from one batch of concrete.

8 Translate to common language: The scaling tests were performed according to the modified ASTM C 672 procedure using two slabs (each with exposed area 72 in) cast from the same batch. The modification of the standard method involved evaluation of the extent of scaling based on the amount of material lost (expressed in pounds per unit area) rather than using the visual rating of the surface.

9 Translate to common language: All specimens were cured in lime-saturated water at temperature of 23  C up to date of testing. The only exception was the scaling tests (for which specimens were water cured for 14 days and than moved to curing room kept at 50% humidity and 23  C where they were stored for another 14 days). The results of both fresh and hardened properties presented in this paper represent an average of at least two measurements.

10 Principle of Coherence Two Know your genre Documents for different audiences and purposes follow the rules of different genres. Genres are predictable patterns for arranging information to reach particular audiences. Genres helps audience anticipate the information they’ll receive in a document.

11 Two Examples of Genre Analytical Report Introduction Methods Results Discussion Conclusion Procedure Introduction List of parts/tools Safety Info Ordered Steps Conclusion

12 Two Examples of Genre Analytical Report Introduction Methods Results Discussion Conclusion Procedure Introduction List of parts/tools Safety Info Ordered Steps Conclusion Opening Body Closing

13 Introduction Notice that both the genres listed in the last slide have an introduction. Regardless of genre, introductions usually follow a standard pattern of organization. To write a good introduction, follow these following six steps.

14 First, define your subject Most readers will expect to know what a report is about right away. A sentence or two that immediately defines the subject helps the reader contextualize all the proceeding information. Example: Severe weather has become a genuine concern for the residents of Tippecanoe County in recent years.

15 Second, state your purpose Tell the reader what your goals for writing the report are. Your should be able to tell the audience what your document will do in one sentence. Example: This report offers some strategies for managing severe weather in Tippecanoe and neighboring counties.

16 Third, state your main point Let your reader know the main idea that you want them to take away from your paper. Your main point should be your overarching solution, decision, or conclusion that you want your reader to take away from your work. Example: Specifically, it provides tips on how to keep friends and family members from making bad decisions during emergency weather situations.

17 Fourth, stress the importance Make your reader understand that the information your going to give them has some pertinence to their life. Give them an answer to the “So what?” question. Example: Without this information, you or a loved one may make a mistake in severe weather that could cost someone’s life.

18 Provide Background Information Give your reader some more information to contextualize your report. Typically, this information should be already known or non-controversial. Example: Recently, twenty Tippecanoe residents have been injured or killed during severe weather.

19 Finally, forecast the content Forecasting lets your reader know exactly what you’ll be telling them in the rest of the report. Example: This report will recommend simple changes residents can make around the home to protect against future injury. Then, it will give specific steps residents can take when severe weather hits. Finally, it will identify resources available for further severe weather education.

20 Introduction Example Severe weather has become a genuine concern for the residents of Tippecanoe County in recent years. This report offers some strategies for managing severe weather in Tippecanoe and neighboring counties. Specifically, it provides tips on how to keep friends and family members from making bad decisions during emergency weather situations. Without this information, you or a loved one may make a mistake during severe weather that could cost someone ’ s life. Recently, twenty Tippecanoe residents have been injured or killed during severe weather. This report will recommend simple changes residents can make around the home to protect against injury or death from severe weather. Then, it will give specific steps residents can take when severe weather hits. Finally, it will identify resources available for further severe weather education.

21 Two Examples of Genre Analytical Report Introduction Methods Results Discussion Conclusion Procedure Introduction List of parts/tools Safety Info Ordered Steps Conclusion Opening Body Closing

22 The Body The body of a document can be organized a number of different ways. Generally, the purpose of a document will determine how the body information should be organized. Organizational strategies include: Cause/Effect Comparison/Contrast Better/Worse Cost/Benefit If…then Either…or Chronological order Problem/Need/Solution Which form of body organization is most common in your profession?

23 The Conclusion A good conclusion summarizes the important information from the document, emphasizing essential features, findings, or recommendations. Many readers will skip to the end of a document, so it’s important that the conclusion is easily identifiable, concise, and clear. There are four steps to writing a good conclusion.

24 First, make a transition Transitional words and phrases let the reader know where they are in a document. For a conclusion, use a transitional phrase like: In conclusion, To sum up, In closing, In summary, Finally, Overall, As a whole, In the end, On the whole, In brief, Put briefly, or Ultimately.

25 Secondly, restate the main point What main idea did you build up in your report? What claims did you make that were essential for a reader to pick up? Leading with your transitional phrase, restate this main idea for your reader in one sentence. Example: In summary, if Tippecanoe residents want to stay safe during severe weather, they need to prepare beforehand and be aware of their surroundings.

26 Thirdly, re-stress importance Try to emphasize the importance of what you have told the audience in a positive way. Remind them why they have spent time reading the report. We can easily reduce the number of casualties from severe weather by preparing our homes and property. Moreover, by disseminating information on how to handle severe weather situations, we can save our loved ones from harm.

27 Fourth, look to the future Indicate to your reader that the future holds promise or that things will improve if your recommendations are acted on. Or, tell your reader that further research needs to take place in a particular part of your field. If we all take these steps, Tippecanoe residents will reduce weather-related casualties. Increased severe weather will not have a detrimental impact on our lives.

28 Conclusion In summary, if Tippecanoe residents want to stay safe during severe weather, they need to prepare beforehand and be aware of their surroundings. We can easily reduce the number of casualties from severe weather by preparing our homes and property. Moreover, by disseminating information on how to handle severe weather situations, we can save our loved ones from harm. If we all take these steps, Tippecanoe residents will reduce weather-related casualties. Increased severe weather will have a minimal impact on our lives.

29 Adapted from Technical Communication Today by Richard Johnson-Sheehan Adaptation by Joshua Prenosil and Richard Johnson-Sheehan

30 For More Information Contact the Purdue Writing Lab: –Drop In: Heavilon 226 –Call: – –On the web: http :// owl.english.purdue.edu


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