Effective Writing: Improving Scientific, Technical, and Business Communication

By Christopher Turk; John Kirkman | Go to book overview

vocabulary which is simple while still being exact, avoid misuse of jargon and thoughtlessly abstract words where concrete ones convey the exact meaning. Think again about roundabout, wordy phrases, the over-use of passive structures, and the temptation to use regular nominalization. Try also to use personal pronouns where they are appropriate.

Draft your documents, and then read through, looking for the types of clumsiness we have identified in this Chapter; it is possible to acquire considerable skill at seeing and correcting stylistic ineptitudes. Our chief advice is to be varied and flexible in the use of the wide resources of the language code, but you must also recognize that the precise and incisive encoding of information is a difficult achievement. Even for experienced writers it is not always, or even often, achieved first time. Learn to be a critical editor, as well as a thoughtful writer, and the quality, and impressiveness, of your documents will undoubtedly improve.


References
1.
See Kapp, R.O. (1948) The Presentation of Technical Information, Constable, London, p. 9.
2.
See Orwell, George (1968) Politics and the English Language. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Secker & Warburg, London, Vol. IV, p. 156.
3.
See Klare, R.G. (1963) Measuring Readability, Iowa State University Press.
4.
West, Michael (1953) A General Service List of English Words, Longmans, Green, London.
5.
Kirkman, J. (1975) Readable Writing for Scientific Papers. Bulletin of the British Ecological Society, VI, (1), 5-9. 57.4% preferred 'Direct, verbs mainly active, minimum of special vocabulary, judicious use of personal and impersonal constructions, sentences of varied length but mainly short and not complex.' The five alternative versions, using less simple style, scored between 1.1% and 16.4% preference .
6.
See Mill, J.S. (1879) A System of Logic, London, Vol. I, p. 213.
7.
See, for example, Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. (1972) A Grammar of Contemporary English, Longman, London, p. 46ff.
8.
Svartvik, Jan (1966) On Voice in the English Verb, Mouton, Paris (1966), p. 46; see also Huddleston, R.D. (1971) The

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Effective Writing: Improving Scientific, Technical, and Business Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • From the Reviews of the First Edition vi
  • Preface vii
  • About the Authors ix
  • 1 - Writing is Communicating: Revising Basic Assumptions 1
  • References 20
  • 2 - Thinking About Aim and Audience 21
  • 3 - Starting to Write: a Practical Approach 36
  • 4 - Organization and Layout of Information 44
  • References 76
  • 5 - The Use of Headings and Numbering 77
  • 6 - Algorithms for Complex Possibilities and Procedures 82
  • 7 - Style for Readability 90
  • References 117
  • 8 - Writing with a Computer 119
  • 9 - Informative Summaries 127
  • 10 - Choosing and Using Tables, Illustrations and Graphic Presentation Techniques 148
  • 11 - Writing Instructions 195
  • 12 - Writing Descriptions and Explanations 216
  • 13 - Writing Letters and Memoranda 225
  • 14 - Writing Minutes and Reports of Proceedings 240
  • 15 - Writing in Examinations 251
  • Appendix A 267
  • Appendix B 269
  • Index 273
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