The first sentence clearly states the main idea of the paragraph "Obstacles are a continual fact of life for teams". As you read this paragraph, notice how the other sentences in the paragraph support the main idea in the first sentence. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, HarperBusiness press , page Computer jargon: Some software companies issue crippleware demos. Others issue shareware or nagware. Still others issue nothing but vaporware. The words "crippleware," "demos," "shareware," "nagware," and "vaporware," are familiar to many people in the computer industry, but mean little or nothing to people unfamiliar with the terms.
Social theory jargon: Critical theory seeks to problematize the hegemonic reification of oppressive stratified social constructs. The above sentence accurately describes one aspect of the social movement known as critical theory, but it uses terms that are somewhat less common outside of critical theory, and which have specific meanings within the theoretical perspective. The example sentence may confuse people who are unfamiliar with critical theory.
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Writers should strive to communicate with their readers, not impress readers by using uncommon or showy words. Unfamiliar words to many people : The populous legion of impecunious vagrants congregated near the basilica. More familiar words: The large crowd of poor homeless people gathered near the old church. Passive voice weakens the action of a sentence by distancing the action from the subjects performing the action. Active voice links the subjects directly with the action. Writers often use the verb "to be" is, are, was, were when more active verbs may be more appropriate.
Over-use of the verb "to be" often forces writers to use the passive voice more than necessary. The verb "to be" suggests passivity because it connects two entities that are essentially equal. The phrase "A is B" essentially means "A equals B. In contrast, other verbs—such as "to improve," "to clarify," "to modify," or "to destroy"—imply more of a dynamic relationship between A and B.
Weak verb "is" : One way to improve your writing is to use strong verbs. Strong verb "improve" : Using stronger verbs can improve your writing.
A improves B The subject of the sentence "using stronger verbs" performs the action of improving the object of the sentence "your writing". Non-parallel construction: His new sorting machine saves time, increases profitability, and worker satisfaction. Parallel Construction: His new sorting machine saves time, increases profitability, and increases worker satisfaction. One way to find out if the sentence contains parallel construction is to list each of the items one at a time in a complete sentence:. The third sentence in this example obviously needs a verb to make the sentence complete and parallel with the previous sentences.
Emphasize the way things are, were, will be, or would be. To the extent possible, avoid the use of don't, didn't, and other words that structure a sentence from the perspective of the way things are not, were not, will not be, or would not be. Negative terms:. Positive terms:. Direct instructions can increase comprehension and place more of a sense of responsibility on the reader. Indirect instructions:.
Direct instructions:. Most readers find double negatives, or multiple negatives, a bit awkward, which can lead to confusion, or at least to slower comprehension. Double negative:. Single negative, or only positive phrase:. Unfamiliar acronyms and abbreviations mean nothing to readers.
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Expanding acronyms and abbreviations allows readers to learn their meaning. This is especially true the first time, or the first few times, an acronym or abbreviation is used. Use an automated spell checker, but also proof-read the document for correctly spelled words that are used incorrectly. Incorrect spelling: I wanted to see hte sunset for myself.
Incorrect words spelled correctly: Our products an services are the best ones fore the price. Readers tend to lose the main point of long, run-on sentences. Help readers stay focused by creating shorter sentences.
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Long, run-on sentence: We all agreed that we ought to eat at the new Greek restaurant in town, then see a movie, and, before going home, we should stop at the grocery store to buy milk for breakfast, because we ran out of milk earlier in the day and cold cereal doesn't taste good without milk, especially not with orange juice, which gives cereal a tart, citrus flavor which is fine for drinking from a glass, but not so fine for eating with flakes of cereal.
Multiple shorter sentences: Sentence 1: We all agreed that we ought to eat at the new Greek restaurant in town, then see a movie. Sentence 2: Before going home, we should stop at the grocery store to buy milk for breakfast because we ran out of milk earlier in the day. Sentence 3: Cold cereal doesn't taste good without milk, especially not with orange juice.
Sentence 4: Orange juice gives cereal a tart, citrus flavor which is fine for drinking from a glass, but not so fine for eating with flakes of cereal. Too wordy: It is my opinion that the explanation that was given by the teacher was delivered in a way that was not brief enough to be interesting, and was not understood by the class. Better: I think that the class misunderstood the teacher's long, uninteresting explanation.
OR The class misunderstood the teacher's long, uninteresting explanation. All of the writing guidelines discussed above will improve the chances that users with reading disorders or cognitive disabilities will understand the text. Nevertheless, these guidelines will be insufficient for some users, especially for those who read poorly, or who cannot read at all. Text content will always pose problems for these users.
Some of the recommendations most relevant to people with cognitive disabilities are the following:. Strictly speaking, writers cannot know for sure whether their writing is truly "clear and simple. Such algorithms appeal to some experts because they are based on clear-cut mathematical formulas.
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The tests produce measurable results. Unfortunately, the tests' emphasis on quantitative numerical accuracy can mislead writers into thinking that achieving clear and simple writing is a well-defined, formulaic process, when it is not.
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The algorithms themselves are somewhat questionable too, since they use such superficial criteria as the number of syllables, the number of words, the length of sentences, etc, all of which are indirect measures of readability, at best. Word also provides a percentage count of passive sentences the lower the percentage the better.
Select the Check grammar with spelling check box and the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK. At the end of this process, a dialogue box will pop up showing the readability score. Also, an online readability test using the Fog index is available from Juicy Studios. Although readability tests are only a superficial measure of true readability, they can at least provide some basic feedback and give authors a general idea of how readable their documents are.
It is not easy to write clearly and simply, but it is important to try. Users are more likely to understand your writing if you take the time to organize your thoughts and write them in the clearest, simplest form possible, taking into account your audience. To maximize understandability for people with cognitive disabilities, limit the text, add appropriate illustrations, and avoid indirect or implied meanings such as sarcasm or parody.
In the end, nearly everyone benefits from clarity and simplicity. Is it Possible to Write "Clearly and Simply"? General Guidelines The guidelines presented here are not a complete list, nor do they apply to every situation, but they are a good starting point. Organize your ideas into a logical outline—before and during the writing process This may be the most important guideline of all. Here are some thoughts by accomplished writers about the need to organize ideas: "If any man wishes to write in a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts.
Tell the readers what you're going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them The formula to follow is to begin with an introduction, or overview of the paper's ideas, explain the ideas in the main body of the text, then summarize or review the ideas at the end. Introduction Tell them what you're going to tell them Not everyone appreciates baldness as they should.
Body Tell them Main idea 1: Bald people don't have to worry about the cost of haircuts. Review and Conclusion Tell them what you told them Baldness allows for some under-appreciated conveniences in life, in terms of haircuts, styling, and windy days.
Stick to the point The more you stray from your main point, the less likely people will be to remember it. Go use site search. Get a feel for the company's vibe.