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Style for Readability. Blay Whitby 2005 [email protected] Style for Readability. Look back in fond remembrance Structure - yet again Micro-structure Sentences Use and abuse of sentences . Layout. Aim: Ease of Reading Techniques: Don't overfill the page

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Style for readability1
Style for Readability

  • Look back in fond remembrance

  • Structure - yet again

    • Micro-structure

  • Sentences

    • Use and abuse of sentences

Technical Communications


Layout
Layout

  • Aim: Ease of Reading

  • Techniques:

    • Don't overfill the page

    • Leave space around titles

    • Clear print

    • Title page

    • Contents

    • Page numbers

    • Names, Dates, Addresses, email, www.

Technical Communications


Pace

  • The rate at which the printed page presents information to the reader In technical writing it should maintain the interest of the T.A.Rathbone(1966)

  • 'Enables the reader to keep his mind working just a fraction of second behind his eye as he reads along'

    • See Rathbone's examples

Technical Communications


Sections paragraphs
Sections & Paragraphs

  • Length should be adjusted to meet:

    • The level of complexity of the topic

    • The technical level of the T.A.

    • The position in the report

  • A good paragraph will convey just one idea Ideally this will stated in a topic sentence, then developed logically

  • Too long is a far more frequent mistake than too short

Technical Communications


Sentences
Sentences

  • Just as a well-structured report is easier to read than a poorly-structured one, so a well-structured sentence is easier to read than an unstructured or confused one.

Technical Communications


Style for readability2
Style for Readability

  • The ideal sentence should convey just one thought, which should be its primary clause.

    • Any subordinate clauses should be closely related ideas.

    • The first and last words are in emphasized positions.

    • Non-sentences will be penalized. Grammar alone does not a good sentence make.

Technical Communications


How many sentences
How many sentences?

  • Live And Let Die

  • The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • For Your Eyes Only

  • You Only Live Twice

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • From Russia With Love

  • Never Say Never Again

  • Tomorrow Never Dies

  • A View To A Kill

Technical Communications


How many sentences1
How many sentences?

  • Live And Let Die √

  • The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • For Your Eyes Only

  • You Only Live Twice

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • From Russia With Love

  • Never Say Never Again

  • Tomorrow Never Dies

  • A View To A Kill

Technical Communications


How many sentences2
How many sentences?

  • Live And Let Die √

  • The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • For Your Eyes Only

  • You Only Live Twice √

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • From Russia With Love

  • Never Say Never Again

  • Tomorrow Never Dies

  • A View To A Kill

Technical Communications


How many sentences3
How many sentences?

  • Live And Let Die √

  • The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • For Your Eyes Only

  • You Only Live Twice √

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • From Russia With Love

  • Never Say Never Again √

  • Tomorrow Never Dies

  • A View To A Kill

Technical Communications


How many sentences4
How many sentences?

  • Live And Let Die √

  • The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Spy Who Loved Me

  • For Your Eyes Only

  • You Only Live Twice √

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • From Russia With Love

  • Never Say Never Again √

  • Tomorrow Never Dies √

  • A View To A Kill

Technical Communications


Voices
Voices

  • Most technical writers over-use the passive voice e.g.  

    • 'The identification of the of the components in the module is by colour codes.'

  • The active voice is usually shorter and clearer.

    • 'Colour codes identify the components in the module'.

Technical Communications


Personal and impersonal forms
Personal and Impersonal Forms

  • Many authorities (eg. Turk and Kirkman, 1982) suggest using the personal form in preference to the impersonal e.g.

    • 'I feel that you should continue using JAVA for this task.‘

  • Compare:  

    • 'JAVA would appear to be the most suitable language for this task.'

Technical Communications


Personal and impersonal forms1
Personal and Impersonal Forms

  • Impersonal forms may be becoming old-fashioned. However, don't make it too personal - a technical report is not a letter.

  • Readability for the T.A. must be the overriding decision criterion - do not make changes just because you suspect something is 'good style'.

Technical Communications


Usage of words
Usage of Words

  • Consider the T.A. Follow the accepted rules of 'good English‘.

  • Use words accurately - are you sure it means exactly what you want to say (dictionary).

  • Use words sparingly - is there a simpler, better word? (thesaurus).

  • Do not use 10 words where one will do.

Technical Communications


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