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Top Tips for Clear Writing Courtney Hopf Academic Skills Adviser

ASK WEEK Pathways to Success 18-22 November 2013


Here are your top tips 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Make sure sentences are straightforward Use accurate signposting language Structure your paragraphs meticulously Eliminate fluff Learn to be a better editor

Right to the chase


Shortness of breath, some feelings of nausea, and the losing of sleep were some of the symptoms the patients had on the drug which was found to be a severe issue and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) removed its approval after complaints were made by some organisations.

1. Make sure your sentences are straightforward Ask yourself: what is my main point here?


1. Identify the ‘turns’ in the sentence (conjunctions and prepositions like ‘of,’ ‘and,’ ‘but,’ ‘since,’ ‘which,’ etc. 2. Split the sentence up if necessary 3. Identify the subject and the verb 4. Rearrange to put the subject and verb as early as possible.

Process


Shortness of breath, extreme feelings of nausea, and persistent dizziness were some of the symptoms the patients had on the drug which was found to be a severe issue and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) removed its approval after complaints were made by some organisations.

The side effects of the drug were found to be unacceptable by consumers, and after complaints from various organisations the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reversed its approval.


What is signposting?

2. Use accurate signposting language


However Although Since Because This/These ______ But

Nevertheless Consequently Similarly By contrast As such, Similarly‌

2. Use accurate signposting language


Stuck for words? Try the Manchester Phrasebank: http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/

2. Use accurate signposting language


Statement (Topic Sentence) Evidence Explanation

S E E

What is a topic sentence and what does it do?

3. Structure your paragraphs meticulously


A topic sentence… • establishes the paragraph’s main idea. • links logically from the previous paragraph. • is NOT a summary, description, or restatement of what someone else has said. • IS your own point, and an aspect of your argument. • is quite simply the most important essay component to master.

3. Structure your paragraphs meticulously


Sample paragraph:

S E E

In the tea industry, which relies heavily on reputation and taste over trend, the benefits of direct and organic marketing far outweigh the more traditional elements of the marketing mix. Direct marketing can provide a more personal service (Fill, 2005), whilst organic marketing can provide a sense of community and allows contact and the transferring of knowledge with customers (Ghambari, 2008). In considering community in marketing strategy, Booms and Bitner (1981) suggest an extended marketing mix including people as a key element. This emphasises the impact of culture on the success of the tea industry, and in turn allows for the inclusion of cultural practices in marketing strategy development.


• Watch out for wordiness • Eliminate adverbs • Avoid the narration trap

4. Eliminate fluff


‘at this moment in time’

now

‘take into consideration’

consider

‘until such time as’

until

‘last but not least’

lastly

‘in the event that’

if

‘due to the fact that’

because

‘the way in which’

how

‘in order to’

so

Watch out for wordiness


While it is essentially just a really long tunnel, the large hadron collider is very important to the future of basically everything we know about particle physics. The large hadron collider is, at its simplest, a 27 kilometer-long oval tunnel, but it is essential to the progression of particle physics.

Eliminate Adverbs


To start off, it would be appropriate to define what is meant by ‘cosmopolitanism’ before going any further.

‘Cosmopolitanism’ refers to…

Avoid the narration trap


Editing vs. Proofreading      

Ideas Arguments Logic Style Clarity ‘Flow’

 Spelling  Grammar  Repetition  Typos  Consistency (reference style, abbreviations, etc)

5. Learn to be a better editor


Use the ‘Say/Do’ test What does this paragraph SAY? Can you summarise it in one sentence? If you can’t your reader won’t be able to either.

What does this paragraph DO? It outlines x issue It furthers my argument It provides essential background/examples  It actually just repeats what the previous paragraph says…   

5. Learn to be a better editor


Clear academic writing… • Consists of clear, well-structured sentences… • that express clear logic from one to the next using accurate signposting language. • Possesses well-structured paragraphs that make one point. • Is not wordy. • Comes from an editing process that takes as long or longer than the initial draft.

Session Summary


ASK WEEK Pathways to Success Find these slides (and much more) on Blackboard

Organisations -> Academic Skills -> Workshop Presentations -> ASK Week Spring 2013


Top Tips for Clear Writing