ABC

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…

multiple perspectives wall

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…

rpw4_cover clip

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…

syntax

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…

March 5 Weather

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…

Lowth's Grammar

Shibboleths for National Grammar Day

For National Grammar Day, I’m posting a slightly edited version of “Shibboleths and entering the professions,” which appeared on Pros Write back in 2012. I wrote the original in response to the raised eyebrows after I posted  “Language choices can be unsuccessful — but never wrong.” For some readers, my belief that language can never…

By www.blancobydesign.com/

Create logical flow between sentences to promote accurate and efficient reading

I have argued that sentence variety is the enemy of efficiency. People read more accurately and efficiently when all the elements of a document are tightly connected. This includes the connection between consecutive sentences. I refer to this as cohesion (sometimes referred to as Functional Sentence Perspective by linguists). My experience is that most adults are able to create cohesive prose…