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…

Read. Then write.

One of the most important things any teacher or manager can do to help novices become pro writers is to discuss sample messages with them. Reading thoughtfully precedes writing successfully! The key to thoughtful reading is discussing the sample message in sufficient, relevant detail and connecting those details to future messages the writer will create.** Here are…

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…

Theory? Or experience?

Many people believe you have to choose between experience and theory when you want to gain knowledge or skills. But the choice represents a false dichotomy. It’s on my mind today as I get ready to meet my first two classes of undergraduate students since 2012. The first day of a college course is about two things: setting…

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…