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Dr. David Blakesley Professor of English, Purdue Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab Five Principles of Readability.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. David Blakesley Professor of English, Purdue Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab Five Principles of Readability."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. David Blakesley Professor of English, Purdue Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab Five Principles of Readability

2 Principle One English is an S-V-O language, so get with it! Sentences that have a subject – verb - object order are more readable than those that don’t.

3 Principle One Example S V O The American Concrete Institute recommends the technique.

4 Principle one Non-Example O V S The technique is being recommended by the ACI.

5 Principle Two Get close to the action! When possible, put the agent (subject) and action (verb) close together in the sentence.

6 Principle Two Example Modified by a chemical process, the ash strengthens the mixture.

7 Principle Two Non- Example S The ash, modified by a chemical process, Action V O strengthens the asphalt.

8 Principle Three Get those modifiers up close and personal! Keep modifiers and the words they modify close together in the sentence.

9 Principle Three Examples modifying phrase Prone to non-linear fissures and cracks, the asphalt is difficult to cut. Proximity word modified

10 Principle Three Non- Example Prone to non-linear fissures and cracks, it was difficult to cut the asphalt. modifying phrase word modified intervening text

11 Principle Four People matter! Whenever possible, put people in the subject position in the sentence.

12 Principle Four example Agent = People S V O Three teams of engineers tested the slag.

13 Principle Four Non-Example Receiving Action Object The slag was tested with multiple measures under laboratory conditions. Note that there is no agent/subject in this sentence!

14 You may have noticed… …that many readability problems stem from one type of sentence construction…

15 …the passive voice The passive voice reverses the agent and the object. Active John laid the pavement. s v o Passive The pavement was laid by John. s v o

16 Principle Five In with the old, out with the new! Start sentences with old information, end them with new (or important) information.

17 Which is easier to read? Business school professors perennially debate over whether maintaining an old employee is more costly than hiring a new one. The issue has strong proponents on each side. Human resource experts maintain that keeping an old employee requires fewer man hours for training and orientation. However, management gurus insist that having the right person in the right position increases the overall productivity of a team or workgroup. Between these two groups are the economists who study new hiring practices in a company-specific context.

18 Which is easier to read? Business school professors perennially debate over whether maintaining an old employee is more costly than hiring a new one. Strong proponents are on each side of the issue. An old employee requires fewer man hours for training and orientation, human resource experts maintain. However, having the right person in the right position increases the overall productivity of a team or workgroup, according to some management gurus. Between these two groups are the economists who study new hiring practices in a company-specific context.

19 Principle Five Example Business school professors perennially debate over whether maintaining an old employee is more costly than hiring a new one. The issue has strong proponents on each side. Human resource experts maintain that keeping an old employee requires fewer man hours for training and orientation. However, management gurus insist that having the right person in the right position increases the overall productivity of a team or workgroup. Between these two arguments are the economists who study new hiring practices in a company-specific context new information = red old information = blue

20 Principle Five Non- Example Business school professors perennially debate over whether maintaining an old employee is more costly than hiring a new one. Strong proponents are on each side of the issue. An old employee requires fewer man hours for training and orientation, human resource experts maintain. However, having the right person in the right position increases the overall productivity of a team or workgroup, according to some management gurus. Between these two groups are the economists who study new hiring practices in a company-specific context new information = red old information = blue

21 The Five Principles Again.. 1.English is an S-V-O language, so get with it! 2.Get close to the action! 3.Get those modifiers up close and personal! 4.People matter! 5.In with the old, out with the new!

22 The End Five Principles of Readability Adapted by Joshua Prenosil and David Blakesley from The Thomson Handbook by David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen Brought to you in cooperation with the Purdue Online Writing Lab

23 For More Information Contact the Purdue Writing Lab: Drop In: Heavilon 226 Call: On the web:


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