Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
- 7 Tips to Write Great Essays - January 5, 2018
- How to Eliminate Abstract Nouns - January 3, 2018
- 3 Important Differences Between Academic versus Technical Writing - January 1, 2018
You can improve your technical copy instantly by staying away from sentences with a long RANDOM list of objects. I call them “trash can sentences.”
Here is an example:
“The Committee will meet Thursday morning to discuss building permits, hiring practices, derivatives trading, inventory, Thanksgiving recess, product modeling, labor issues, Caribbean resorts, IPO planning, parking space availability, retirement bonuses, Christmas break, vendor relations, and Mexican hotels.”
It is very hard to understand and retain the gist of such sentences because they do not present a “pattern” for our minds to hold on to.
PROBLEM: To improve a sentence like that while preserving its structural integrity.
SOLUTION: Re-group the similar elements and present them together.
For example, if you mention “Christmas break” also mention “Thanksgiving recess” right after that since they are similar vacation phrases.
If you mention “retirement bonuses” or “vendor relations” right next to “Christmas break” your sentence will be much harder to comprehend.
Here is the same sentence, reconstructed with similar phrases presented next to each other:
“The Committee will meet Thursday morning to discuss inventory, product modeling, vendor relations, labor issues, hiring practices, parking space availability, building permits, Caribbean resorts, Mexican hotels, derivatives trading, IPO planning, retirement bonuses, Thanksgiving recess, and Christmas break.”
Here are the similar phrases in this restructured sentence:
- “inventory, product modeling, vendor relations” – CORPORATE concepts.
- “labor issues, hiring practices” – LABOR FORCE/HR concepts.
- “parking space availability, building permits” – PHYSICAL FACILITY concepts.
- “Caribbean resorts, Mexican hotels” – VACATION/TOURISM concepts.
- “derivatives trading, IPO planning, retirement bonuses” – MONEY concepts.
- “Thanksgiving recess, and Christmas break” – HOLIDAY concepts.
The GOLDEN RULE: GROUP them before you PRESENT them.