Editing for Clarity and Conciseness

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Analysts are writers. Writers are communicators. To be effective, communicators need to be clear and concise, nothing less. This presentation is aimed at helping the analysts and writers review the basic principles in achieving clarity and conciseness in writing reports.

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Editing for Clarity and Conciseness

  1. 1. Editing for Clarityand Conciseness Quality Control Team
  2. 2. Why is Clarity of utmost importance in writing? We become effective only when we are clear. Our reports can only become interesting if the findings and data are clearly explained. We want to show our credibility and authority as writers/analysts. 2
  3. 3. Checkup Test:Identify what makes the following sentences unclear,and suggest how to improve the sentences for clarity Fewer people stay away from large amusement parks on holidays.  Less attention is paid to commercials that lack human interest stories than to other kinds of commercials.  3
  4. 4. Checkup Test:Identify what makes the following sentences unclear,and suggest how to improve the sentence for clarity There are tweets congratulating Ita Buttrose for winning the Australian of the Year award.  Twitter – Australia is the channel with the most buzz as tweets congratulating Ita Buttrose, president of Alzheimer’s Australia who was named Australian of the Year.  4
  5. 5. Checkup Test:Identify what makes the following sentences unclear,and suggest how to improve the sentence for clarity The netizens had a discussion concerning the unaffordability of housing in Singapore.  Coach Espinoza was a brilliant strategist, a caring mentor, and a friend.  5
  6. 6. What strategies can help in improving sentence clarity? 6
  7. 7. 1. Use a predictable and logical development mode  From macro to micro level  General Trend  Brand Insights  Product Insights  Industry perspective  Brand Insights  Product InsightsExamples:(Macro trends) The spring trend that highlights mixing of neutral colors andbright/neon hues garners various reactions from consumers. Younger netizensconsider the bright hues a positive addition in time for the season, while olderones still want to stick to neutral shades for a natural look.(Brand insight) Netizens regard Bobbi Brown products as investments, and mostchoose to spend “a little more” for makeup products guaranteed to have betterquality. This stems from a fear of experiencing skin irritations that may be causedby low-quality makeup items.(Product insight) One of the most recurring concerns is related to removing andconcealing dark circles under the eyes. Bobbi Brown Corrector is recommendedfor this purpose, alongside M•A•C Fast Response Cream, Tarte and Dr. Denese. 7
  8. 8. 2. Use appropriate transitional words  Transitional devices cue the readers on the relationship between sentences.  Examples: however, also, moreover, but, on the contrary, etc.ExamplesX “YOKA优点” generates the highest repost volume. The “瑞丽化妆品库” attracts more reposters.X “YOKA优点” generates the highest repost volume, while the “瑞丽化妆品库” attracts more reposters. “YOKA优点” generates the highest repost volume, but the “瑞丽化妆 品库” attracts more reposters 8
  9. 9. 3. Be careful about the placement of subordinate clauses  Improper placement of subordinate clause interrupts the flow of the sentence and causes confusion.ExamplesX La Mer buzz increased significantly by 291.25% due to promotional campaigns, which were focused on its its new product, The Moisturizing Soft Cream, on forums such as Yoka - La Mer Forum and 55bbs.com. La Mer buzz increased significantly by 291.25% due to promotional campaigns on forums such as Yoka - La Mer Forum and 55bbs.com. The new product launched in the said forums was The Moisturizing Soft Cream. 9
  10. 10. 4. Prefer active over passive voice  Active voice is easier to understand.  Sentences in active voice are more concise.  Use passive voice only for certain purposes.ExamplesX On Oct 28, a review of 30 brands of lip balms was posted by a popular blogger who often shares tips on beauty products on Sina blog . A popular blogger who regularly shares tips on beauty products posted on Oct 28 a review of 30 brands of lip balms. 10
  11. 11. 5. Use parallel constructions  Parallel form = similar grammatical construction  Observe parallelism when you have a series of words, phrases or clauses in your sentence.ExamplesX The Helena Rubinstein Glitter Eye Pencil was said to be easy to use and with many color selections. The Helena Rubinstein Glitter Eye Pencil was said to be easy to use and to have many color selections 11
  12. 12. 6. Avoid noun strings  A series of nouns is difficult to understand and affects clarity.  One way to avoid this is to change noun to verb.ExamplesX The netizens commented on the product information campaign implementation that seemed “complicated”. The netizens commented that the campaign on product information which the company implemented was “complicated”. 12
  13. 13. 7. Avoid too much use of ‘nominalizations’  Nominalization = use of noun forms of verbs  Examples: conclusion, analysis, demonstration, implementation, collaboration, discontinuation  Use verbs when possibleExamplesX The collaboration between Biotherm and Clarisonic gains a significant number of comments and shares.X The discontinuation of membership among some consumers is due to the increasing prices of membership fees. Biotherm collaborated with Clarisonic in a campaign that gains a significant number of comments and shares. Some consumers discontinued membership because of the increasing prices of fees. 13
  14. 14. 8. Avoid multiple negatives  Use affirmative forms, rather than negatives  Multiple negatives are difficult to understandExamples X Aveda hair products were associated with speculations that the company tests on animals and posts discouraged others to discontinue buying Aveda for this reason. (discouraged others to discontinue buying = to keep buying)  The netizens continued buying Aveda products despite speculations that companies test products on animals. 14
  15. 15. 9. Choose action verbs, instead of be verbs  Instead of using be verbs, focus on actions you wish to expressExamples X Some activities are focused on encouraging participants to share information on their skin types, while a few are about the participants reactions to the voice of the narrator in the newly launched television commercial of The Moisturizing Cream.  The campaign encouraged participants to share information on their skin types, and to give their reactions to the voice talent on the newly launched television commercial of The Moisturizing Cream. 15
  16. 16. 10. Avoid unclear pronoun references  If possible, avoid the use of pronouns.  If using pronouns can’t be avoided, make sure there is no sudden shift in point of view, and that what you are referring to is clear.ExamplesX Users complained about the volatility of prices as they mentioned that in Sephora you could get the foundation for €40 meanwhile in other stores like Marvimundo and Juteco, the price was around €28 to €30. In a discussion about the volatility of prices , users mentioned that in Sephora, the foundation is sold for €40, but in other stores like Marvimundo and Juteco, the foundation costs between €28 and €30. 16
  17. 17. Answers This sentence is confusing because of the double negative (fewer and stay away).  17
  18. 18. Answers Unclear (multiple negatives, passive) Suggestion:  People pay more attention to commercials with human interest stories than to other kinds of commercials.  18
  19. 19. Answers Avoid the use of ‘there is’ or ‘there are’ Suggestion:  Twitter users congratulated Ita Buttrose for winning the Australian of the Year award.  19
  20. 20. Answers Avoid non-action words or be-verbs Suggestion:  Twitter – Australia topped the channels as netizens congratulated Ita Buttrose for winning the Australian of the Year award.  20
  21. 21. Answers Avoid grammatical nominalizations  A type of wordiness in which the writer uses both a noun and a verb when the verb alone would do the trick. Suggestion:  The netizens discussed the unaffordability of housing in Singapore.  21
  22. 22. Answers Observe parallelism Suggestion:  Coach Espinoza was a brilliant strategist, a caring mentor, and a wise friend.  22
  23. 23. Tips: Parallel structure Form parallel structure with –ing forms or gerund Form parallel structure with infinitive phrases. Do NOT mix forms. Mary likes hiking, swimming, and to ride a bicycle. Mary likes hiking, swimming, and riding a bicycle. Mary likes to go on a hike, to swim and to ride a bicycle. 23
  24. 24. Tips: Parallel structure Use consistent verb tense The teacher said that he was a poor student because he waited until the last minute to study for the exam, completed his lab problems in a careless manner, and his motivation was low. Parallel: The teacher said that he was a poor student because he waited until the last minute to study for the exam, completed his lab problems in a careless manner, and lacked motivation. 24
  25. 25. Tips: Parallel structure Changing to another pattern or changing the voice of the verb (from active to passive or vice versa) will break the parallelism. The Australians discussed the advantages of placing dementia patients in nursing homes, the importance of conducting research on dementia, and the behavioural changes. Parallel: The Australians discussed the advantages of placing dementia patients in nursing homes, the importance of conducting research on dementia, and the value of understanding behavioural changes among dementia patients. 25
  26. 26. Tips: Parallel structure Be sure to keep all the elements in a list in the same form. The dictionary can be used to find these: word meanings, pronunciations, correct spellings, and looking up irregular verbs. Parallel: The dictionary can be used to find these: word meanings, pronunciations, correct spellings, and irregular verbs. 26
  27. 27. Proofreading Strategies to help check Parallelism: Skim your paper, pausing at the words "and" and "or." Check on each side of these words to see whether the items joined are parallel. If not, make them parallel. If you have several items in a list, put them in a column to see if they are parallel. Listen to the sound of the items in a list or the items being compared. Do you hear the same kinds of sounds? For example, is there a series of "-ing" words beginning each item? Or do your hear a rhythm being repeated? If something is breaking that rhythm or repetition of sound, check to see if it needs to be made parallel. Source 27
  28. 28. Exercises: Parallel structure The production manager was asked to write his report quickly, accurately, and in a detailed manner. The coach told the players that they should get a lot of sleep, that they should not eat too much, and to do some warm-up exercises before the game. 28
  29. 29. Exercises: Parallel structure The salesman expected that he would present his product at the meeting, that there would be time for him to show his slide presentation, and that questions would be asked by prospective buyers. 29
  30. 30. How can we achieve conciseness? 30
  31. 31. What is concise writing?Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain nounnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessarysentences, for the same reason that a drawing shouldhave no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessaryparts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentencesshort, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only inoutline, but that every word tell. — William Strunk Jr. in Elements of Style 31
  32. 32. What is concise writing? 32
  33. 33. Tips in achieving conciseness Beware of the following: And Consider the… REDUNDANCY LEAN/CONCISE VERSION 12 midnight Midnight 12 noon Noon 3 am in the morning 3 am Absolutely spectacular/phenomenal Spectacular/phenomenal A person who is honest An honest person Biography of her life Biography Circle around Circle End result Result In spite of the fact that Although One and the same The same New innovations Innovations Surrounding circumstances Circumstances 33
  34. 34. Tips in achieving conciseness  Avoid redundancy. Omit repetitive wording.  Delete unnecessary intensifiers, e.g. really, very, quite, extremely, etc.  Omit verbal deadwoods  Delete over-explanations 34
  35. 35. Tips in achieving conciseness 35
  36. 36. Tips in achieving conciseness 36
  37. 37. Tips in achieving conciseness  Replace several vague words with more powerful and specific words.  Suzie believed but could not confirm that Billy had feelings of affection for her. [14 words]  Suzie assumed that Billy adored her. [6 words] 37
  38. 38. Tips in achieving conciseness  Eliminate words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail  The teacher demonstrated some of the various ways and methods for cutting words from my essay that I had written for class. [22]  The teacher demonstrated methods for cutting words from my essay.[10] 38
  39. 39. Tips in achieving conciseness  Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers  Completing the tasks by Friday is an impossibility without some kind of extra help. [14]  Completing the tasks by Friday is impossible without extra help.[10] 39
  40. 40. Tips in achieving conciseness  Omit redundant pairs and redundant categories large in size past memories often times various differences of a bright color each individual _______ heavy in weight basic fundamentals period in time true facts round in shape important essentials RedundantRedundant at an early time future plans pairscategories economics field terrible tragedy of cheap quality end result honest in character final outcome of an uncertain condition free gift in a confused state past history unusual in nature unexpected surprise extreme in degree sudden crisis of a strange type 40
  41. 41. Tips in achieving conciseness  Combine Sentences.  The supposed crash of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico aroused interest in extraterrestrial life. This crash is rumored to have occurred in 1947. [24]  The supposed 1947 crash of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico aroused interest in extraterrestrial life.[16] 41
  42. 42. Examples Draft EditedA thread starter at the Netizens reported a gas leak in aHardwareZone Forums initiated a train between Jurong East andthread by reporting a supposed gas Clementi. [13]leak in a train travelling betweenJurong East and Clementi. [# ofwords: 25]A netizen started a thread asking Most netizens complained that thepeople what they thought of the MRT was slow andcountry’s MRT and public transport overcrowded. [10]system. Most netizens commentedabout the MRT, complaining that itwas slow and overcrowded. [18,13] 42
  43. 43. Exercises: Rewrite the following for clarity and conciseness Draft EditedOur Web site has made answersavailable many of the things youcan use for making a decisionon the best dentist.Working as a pupil under someonewho develops photos was anexperience that really helped melearn a lot.The microscope revealed a group oforganisms that were round in shapeand peculiar in nature. 43
  44. 44. Exercises: Rewrite the following for clarity and conciseness Draft EditedBefore the travel agent was answercompletely able to finish explainingthe various differences among all ofthe many very unique vacationpackages his travel agency wasoffering, the customer changed herfuture plans.Imagine a mental picture ofsomeone engaged in the intellectualactivity of trying to learn what therules are for how to play the gameof chess.The supply manager considered thecorrecting typewriter an unneededluxury. 44
  45. 45. Answers Our website presents criteria for determining the best dentist. Working as a photo technicians apprentice was an educational experience. The microscope revealed a group of peculiar, round organisms. 45
  46. 46. Answers The customer changed her plans before the travel agent had finished explaining the differences among the vacation packages. Imagine someone trying to learn the rules of chess. The supply manager considered the correcting typewriter a luxury. 46
  47. 47. References Improving Sentence Clarity. Purdue Online Writing Lab. Available: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/600/1/ Parallel Form. Capital Community College Foundation. Available: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/parallelism.htm Strunk Jr., W & White, E.B. The Elements of Style. Available: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7uu334v2kk9gny8/The-Elements-Of-Style-Strunk-White-4Th-Edition.pdf Wheeler, Kip. Grammatical Nominalization. Carson-Newman University. Available: http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/gram_nominalization.html 47
  48. 48. Thank you! 48

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