Editors insure content matches audience readiness for it

My technical editing students are working on a developmental edit on some assembly instructions from Ikea. To help them make good recommendations, we’ve been discussing how to help content creators address the readers’ readiness for that content. Readiness is a concept borrowed from leadership research (the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership theory) to describe how able and…

Readers label you based on your style

I’m in Seattle at the Association for Business Communication conference. Erin Kane and I will present “Reader Perception of Workplace-Writer Attributes” this afternoon. (Our fellow researchers, Nicole Amare and Alan Manning couldn’t make the trip.) We had more than 600 working adults in the US tell us whether they preferred the more plain or less…

Plain language requires attention to the text

To celebrate International Plain Language Day, I’m republishing a four-part series in which I defined “plain language” a couple of years ago. Part three was accidentally published last night. [sigh] Here’s part one. Perhaps the most obvious way to define plain language is to focus on the words a writer chooses. For instance, a common proscription…

Check out the 4th Edition of Revising Professional Writing

The 4th edition of Revising Professional Writing in Science and Technology, Business, and the Social Sciences is now available.  It’s an affordable workbook at $39.95 USD, with over 400 revision and editing problems. Instructors get an answer key plus supplements here on Pros Write (e.g., sample documents, videos, etc.) supporting the principles in the book. Each of the 21 chapters…

Choose active vs. passive voice strategically

No grammatical construction raises the ire of writing “experts” like the passive. Geoff Pullum (a regular contributor to Lingua Franca at the Chronicle of Higher Education) provided two marvelous examples in a research paper titled “Fear and loathing of the English passive.” The passive voice liquidates and buries the active individual, along with most of the awful…

Another lesson on the bottom line

A quick story…I was working from home on slides for a presentation this afternoon. As I got ready to head to campus, my phone alerted me to a text message from a co-worker: This state needs to invest in trucks. And salt. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow! It took a minute, but I finally figured out the campus was…