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Developing Basic Writing Techniques

Developing Basic Writing Techniques

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Developing Basic Writing Techniques

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  1. C H A P T E R Developing Basic Writing Techniques 3

  2. Learning Objectives • Make your writing more readable by using plain language and by substituting familiar words for unfamiliar words. • Achieve a forceful style by using precise verbs, concrete nouns, and vivid adjectives. • Recognize and avoid unnecessary jargon. • Recognize and avoid slang and clichés.

  3. Learning Objectives • Eliminate repetitious words and redundancies. • Replace outdated expressions with more current expressions. • Develop a concise writing style by avoiding wordy prepositional phrases and long lead-ins. • Recognize and avoid needless adverbs and expletives.

  4. Use Plain Language • Avoid legalese, federalese, and bureaucratese

  5. Use Plain Language Each person to whom this request is herein addressed is henceforth solicited to submit, or to have his or her department representative submit, to the appropriate Minister’s office as described above, a comment on whether the proposed plan, in his or her considered view, meets the requirements of the new law. Two (2) or more suchpersons may join in a single comment.

  6. Use Plain Language You may wish to comment on whether the proposed plan meets the requirements of the new law.

  7. Use Familiar Words • Avoid long, difficult, or unfamiliar words. • Use short, simple, or common words whenever possible.

  8. Use Familiar Words • Avoid indirect, pompous language. • Ineffective: • Please utilize the correct operational parameters to complete the task. • Improved: • Please follow the directions.

  9. Use Precise Verbs • Precise verbs help the reader see the action. • General: Our market researchers said that profits would improve. • Precise: Our market researchers predicted improved profits.

  10. Avoid Converting Verbsto Nouns • Weak The manager wanted to make an elimination of overtime. • Strong The manager wanted to eliminate overtime. • Weak An application must be made by every candidate. • Strong Every candidate must apply.

  11. Use Concrete Nouns • Concrete nouns name objects to help readers visualize the meaning of words. • General: The man asked for a raise. • Precise: Jeff Davis asked for a four percent salary increase.

  12. Use Vivid Adjectives • Descriptive, dynamic adjectives make your writing concrete and lively. • General: The report was good. • Vivid: The report was comprehensive.

  13. Avoid Jargon • Using terms from a particular profession outside of that profession can be confusing. • Computer Jargon: Menu • Alternative: List of options

  14. Avoid Slang • Using terms common to a social or cultural group can inject misunderstanding. • Slang: Ravi asked the committee to mellow out. • Alternative: Ravi asked the committee to relax.

  15. Avoid Clichés • Clichés are overused expressions. • Cliché: We had reached the end of our rope. • Improved: • We could go no further.

  16. Eliminate Repetition • Repetitious: Workers will be able to add two additional workers to help the three previously hired workers who make up the workers’ team. • Improved: Workers will be able to add two additional employees to help the three previously hired members who make up the team.

  17. Eliminate Redundancies • close proximity • new beginning • exactly identical • personal opinion • perfectly clear • past history • final outcome

  18. Remove Outdated Expressions • Replace wordy, dated expressions with more concise, current wording.

  19. Remove Outdated Expressions Instead of this...Try this… Pursuant to your letter According to your letter As per your request At your request Due to the fact that Because Every effort will be made We’ll try As of this date in time Now

  20. Delete Wordy Prepositions • Wordy prepositional phrases can sometimes be replaced by a single word. • Wordy: We don’t as a general rule cash personal cheques. • Concise: We don’t generally cash personal cheques.

  21. Delete Wordy Prepositions Students in very few instances receive parking tickets. Students seldom receive parking tickets. She calls meetings on a monthly basis. She calls monthly meetings.

  22. Avoid Long Lead-ins • Wordy: • This memo is to inform you that all employees will meet May 2. • Improved: • All employees will meet May 2.

  23. Omit Needless Adverbs • Streamline your writing and sound more professional by omitting intensifying adverbs such as: • very • quite • definitely • completely • really

  24. Omit Needless Adverbs • Wordy: Brokers are quite certain that these stocks are completely safe. • Concise: Brokers are certain that these stocks are safe.

  25. Avoid Expletives • Avoid word-wasting expletives such as there and it. • Wordy: There are two students who will help us. • Concise: Two students will help us.

  26. Try Your Skill Revise the following sentences using simpler language for unfamiliar terms. 1. Mr. Johnson said he must terminate the copier contract. Mr. Johnson said he must end the copier contract.

  27. Try Your Skill 2. Please ascertain if Jason monitored the progress of the remodeling project. Please find out if Jason checked the remodeling project. 3. Lisa hypothesized that the accounts were utilized incorrectly. Lisa guessed that the accounts were used incorrectly.

  28. Try Your Skill Revise these sentences to avoid verb-noun conversion. 1. Could you bring about a change in the company sick-leave policy? Could you change the company sick-leave policy?

  29. Try Your Skill 2. The investigator made a determination of the amount of money lost from the robbery. The investigator determined the amount of money lost from the robbery. 3. The duty of the general manager is the calculation of monthly sales. The general manager calculates monthly sales.

  30. Try Your Skill Revise the sentence to include vivid and concrete language. 1. My assistant will call them soon. Ms. Kurnweig will call the salesperson on Friday.

  31. Try Your Skill Revise the following sentences avoiding jargon and slang. 1. A bug in the computer program crashed the system. An error in the computer program caused the system to shut down.

  32. Try Your Skill 2. The shredder manual listed a caveat about placing metal through the cutting mechanism. The shredder manual listed a warning about placing metal through the cutting mechanism. 3. Mr. Hobbes runs a tight ship and expects project completion right on target. Mr. Hobbes gives specific instructions and expects projects completed as scheduled.

  33. Try Your Skill Revise the following sentences to avoid clichés and unnecessary repetition, and to eliminate outdated expressions. 1. Despite the fact that the deadline has passed, we still receive applications. Although the deadline has passed, we still receive applications.

  34. Try Your Skill 2. Without rhyme or reason District Manager Niles refused to interface with any representatives face to face. For no reason District Manager Niles refused to speak directly with any representatives. 3. As per your request, every effort will be made to rush your order. As you requested, we’ll try to rush your order.

  35. Try Your Skill Revise the following sentences to eliminate wordy prepositional phrases, long lead-ins, needless adverbs, and expletives. 1. This letter is to inform you that in all probability we will finish in two weeks. We will probably finish in two weeks.

  36. Try Your Skill 2. There are really only two candidates that are worth interviewing. Only two candidates are worth interviewing. 3. It was his work ethic that definitely impressed recruiters. His work ethic impressed recruiters.