|You are expected to write sentences that are:||This means they need to:||Examples|
|Clear||Avoid needlessly complex phrases ||We used a 150mbps wireless nano WPS-compatible power saving USB adapter.|
(Long chains of adjectives and noun modifiers added before nouns can unnecessarily complicate your documents. Instead, add such defining adjectives and noun modifiers after the noun and/or split them over multiple linked sentences.)
|Concise||Avoid longwinded sentences with needless adjectives, adverbs, and verb phrases||The successful implementation of our design by the construction team relies very heavily on a rather thorough understanding of the somewhat complex nuances of our progressive approach.|
(Details are not always informative. Avoid descriptions that do not add meaning to your sentences. Removing the underlined words in this example will still deliver the same meaning. Long-winded sentences usually include unnecessary words that can be easily removed.)
|||Avoid empty and unnecessary expressions ||Consider the following expressions:|
at this point in time (now)
has the ability to (can)
in the event that (if)
in the vicinity of (near)
owing to the fact that (because)
there is no doubt but that (No doubt)
it is my intent to show that (Results show…)
(Prepositional phrases and phrasal verbs lead to long and convoluted sentences. Usually, such expressions can be replaced by single words, or can be completely removed without affecting the meaning.)
|Familiar||Start with what is known and add new content towards the end of the sentence||The design team considered three alternatives for the cell tower location and evaluated them based on five design criteria. The alternatives were: |
1) The east slope of the hill
2) The west slope of the hill
3) The peak of the hill
Based on the evaluation of the design criteria, alternative 1 fulfills….
(In technical writing, sentences usually start with known information that was introduced earlier in the text. This helps contextualize the new information and helps readers process information faster.)
|Include short subjects that are close to their verbs (do not separate subjects and verbs with details)||The ability of the freeway to accommodate nature- and human-induced wear and tear given the longevity and effectiveness of the material used is one of the considerations that the City will discuss prior to approving the project.|
(The verb “are" in the above sentence occurs too far from its subject: “the ability of the freeway." This impedes understanding the content. In this case, flipping the sentence will allow for a shorted subject: Prior to approving the project, the City will consider the ability of the freeway to ….)
|List items at the end (rather than at the beginning or middle) of the sentence.|
|Consider the following sentences: |
Understanding the collection of programs that deliver the machine learning functionality, managing the machine learning risk, and ensuring machine learning compliance were influential in assessing the effectiveness of machine learning initiatives.
Several factors were influential in assessing the effectiveness of machine learning initiatives, such as: understanding the collection of programs that deliver the machine learning functionality, managing the machine learning risk, and ensuring machine learning compliance.
(The first sentence starts with listing items. As a result, the main idea of the sentence is not understood until the very end. To avoid crowding your sentences and confusing your readers, start your sentences with the main idea, and list items at the end.)
|Eliminate the needlessly passive voice* and use the active voice to establish responsibility. ||Consider the following sentences: |
For testing static stability, it was determined appropriate by the research team to initiate and release perturbations in the structures.
In order to test the static stability, the research team decided to initiate and release perturbations in the structures.
(Generally, the active voice is more direct and straightforward. Notice in the above examples how the active voice allows the writer to: use a stronger verb [decided vs. was determined] and to express the main idea more effectively and concisely. This structure is easier for readers to follow and understand.)