Presentation on theme: "Good Writing. Good writing in English has several key components. Good writing is clear and unambiguous, with descriptive words that are easy to understand,"— Presentation transcript:
Good writing in English has several key components. Good writing is clear and unambiguous, with descriptive words that are easy to understand, proper grammar and punctuation, and careful use of pronouns and modifiers. Good writing is concise. Unnecessary words and repetitious phrases are removed. Good writing is focused, with every sentence contributing to the purpose of the document.
Good Writing Is Clear and Unambiguous There are many ways for writing to be unclear. Esoteric or unusual words will confuse many readers. Poorly chosen words can make your writing less clear. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes make writing harder to understand. Pronouns are inherently ambiguous, and pose a constant threat to clarity. Misplaced or clumsy modifiers can also distort the meaning of a sentence.
Obscure Vocabulary Eschew obfuscation. Very few readers will understand this gem of advice. However, if you say, "avoid making things unclear," almost any reader will be able to understand.
Try not to use obscure or unusual words which many readers will not be able to understand. This includes needlessly fancy words like "pulchritude" or "anthrogogue," and technical and scientific terms. Be wary of abbreviations. Most people know what a CD is, but they may be less familiar with an MRI or an SOP. Not every reader will be familiar with the casual abbreviations often seen in e- mail, like "LOL" or "OMG."
Be careful with slang expressions, especially words whose meaning has changed over the years. Readers over the age of 30 are likely to consider the word "pimp" an insult, while younger readers might consider it a compliment.
Descriptive Words Use the best word for the situation. Usually a more descriptive word is better than a less descriptive word. Instead of "dog," write "collie” or “poodle." Instead of "vehicle," use "pickup truck" or "sedan."
Resist the temptation to use vague words because they sound official or serious. Never write that someone was "proceeding down the street." If they were driving, say so. If they were walking, say that they were walking. Don't make your readers guess.
Grammar Grammar is a subject too complex to be summarized here. Poor grammar may do nothing worse than irritate your readers. Sometimes, however, poor grammar can make your writing confusing or impossible to understand.
Be careful with spelling, and especially with homonyms (words which sound the same but are spelled differently). You may have correctly spelled a word that you didn't mean to use. "Joe is a little horse" is a very different statement from "Joe is a little hoarse."
Incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. "My brother's money" belongs to my brother, but "my brothers' money" belongs to my brothers. A misplaced comma can turn one modifier into two different modifiers. "He arrived for his appointment, late yesterday afternoon," suggests that he arrived on time for an appointment in the late afternoon. "He arrived for his appointment late, yesterday afternoon," suggests that he was late for his appointment.
Failure to understand the parts of speech can also cause confusion. If, instead of "I feel bad," you write, "I feel badly," it sounds as if you are not very good at feeling.
Pronouns Every pronoun risks confusing your readers. Consider the following example: Andy and Bob tried to install a new carpet in the hall, but he said it was too wide. Who did the talking? Was the carpet too wide for the hall, or was the hall too wide for the carpet? Your guess is as good as mine.
Every time you write "he," "she," "it," "they," or any other pronoun, you need to double- check for any chance of misunderstanding.
Modifiers A modifier is a word or phrase that describes or modifies something in a sentence. The modifier should be placed as close as possible to whatever it is modifying. Consider the following examples: Tom had some chicken that he thought was greasy, with his friend. Tom had some chicken with his friend, that he thought was greasy. In the first example it sounds like Tom thought the chicken was greasy. In the second example it sounds like he thought his friend was greasy.
Good Writing Is Concise Brevity, according to Shakespeare, is the soul of wit. Most of us write documents that are somewhat bloated and repetitive. If you can learn to remove unnecessary words, phrases, and sentences, your writing will improve dramatically. Here are some examples of trimming the fat: Right now, gasoline is expensive. Gasoline is expensive.
Good Writing Is Concise Mr. Smith, who is my lawyer, wrote this document. Mr. Smith, my lawyer, wrote this document. I was not aware of the fact that the car was stolen. I was not aware that the car was stolen. I did not know that the car was stolen.
Good Writing Is Concise The truth is, I don't like your hat. I don't like your hat. Egg whites are low in fat. Egg whites are also high in protein. Egg whites are more healthy than whole eggs. Egg whites, low in fat and high in protein, are healthier than whole eggs.