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Education

Published on February 15, 2008

Author: Davide

Source: authorstream.com

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Technical Reports and Presentations:  Technical Reports and Presentations Week 2: the craft of readable writing Agenda:  Agenda Communications fog Define ‘good’ writing Readability indexes Smothered vs. active writing Slide3:  What a weasel! How does your writing reflect a personality? The conclusions drawn from exhaustive study are to the effect that it seems advisable under present circumstances to initiate adoption of the incentive plan. If a presentation of the full facts of the plan is duly made to the employees, our considered opinion is to the effect that their approval will be forthcoming. Slide4:  Semantic Noise A clear signal can become obscured with “foggy” language Slide5:  An employee who has a grievance or his representative will normally present the grievance, in the first instance, orally to the immediate supervisor. The supervisor will consider it promptly and impartially, collecting the necessary facts and reaching a decision. If the employee is not satisfied with the solution of the problem, he will be advised that he may discuss the problem with the next higher supervisor. Slide6:  Is something about your job troubling you? Here are the steps you can take to solve your problem. In most cases it will be solved at the first step. If not, you have the right to keep going on up to the top. You may present your own case or have someone do it for you. Talk with your superior. He has been told to give a prompt and fair answer to all problems. Usually, a short friendly talk with him will fix things up. Be honest and sincere when you talk with him. Slide7:  Cut that “fog” and let your message shine through! Employees have not been made sufficiently aware of the potentially adverse consequences involved regarding these chemicals. Warn your employees about these chemicals. Slide8:  Is good writing all about good grammar? What exactly did your English teachers tell you to avoid? Slide9:  Improving your writing = grammar? Professionals? Not like you, trying unconsciously to please the teacher by following some rules of “English Composition”. The pros avoid “written” English like the plague. Their secret? Talk to your reader! Slide10:  The straight ‘A’ illiterate The condition characterized by being aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the beholder is identical to that condition characterized by an unyielding regard for veracity and, of course, there is the fact that the reverse of the foregoing is also true. Beauty is truth, truth beauty. by John Keats Slide11:  And what about Shakespeare? A problem of moment to one, indeed to many, is whether or not continued existence, i.e. life, is of sufficient value, importance, or consequence for it to be maintained in its entirety or dispensed with altogether. To be or not to be: that is the question. by William Shakespeare Slide12:  Write to communicate; don’t write to impress and . . . Writing to communicate means write the way you talk If you want to “talk on paper”, you can measure your talk with two simple counts. Slide13:  All the words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: 450,000 Average college graduate recognizes: 20,000 (4.4%) Shakespeare: 17,000 (3.7%) Average college graduate uses: 8,000 (1.8%) Most commonly used: 1,000 (0.2%) Words? Slide15:  Sentences? Elizabethan Napoleonic Wars The average sentence length (ASL) has shortened over time to 17-21 words in 2000 Canadian business? The readability index arrives:  The readability index arrives by late 1940’s journalists, educators, publishers, business consultants an unorthodox way to judge effectiveness of writing count Average sentence length syllables The Fog Index:  The Fog Index A formula to give a fairly accurate way to measure and compare the complexity of what you read or write The condition characterized by being aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the beholder is identical to that condition characterized by an unyielding regard for veracity and, of course, there is the fact that the reverse of the foregoing is also true. ? Slide18:  The Fog Index is based upon counts of long words and sentence length It includes a factor to make it represent the approximate number of years of schooling needed to readily comprehend the prose being tested. Thus . . . the higher the Fog Index, the harder the writing is to read. Grade 10 Grade 22 Slide19:  *Robert Gunning in 1944 Slide21:  Check Week 2 WWW Slide22:  Flesch “Reading Ease” Score: 85-100 V. Easy 0-50 Difficult Longer sentences + simpler words OR Shorter sentences + more complex words Slide23:  Flesch Index: 95 Slide24:  This is a big responsibility, and a noble cause. We are here because an installation celebrates what we are doing together. It gives us the chance to say again how important it is. The future has always been a challenge. A challenge and an invitation to change. The world is always changing, that's not new. I suspect that every installation speech delivered since the dawn of time remarks that the world is changing. And every time it is likely said that the world is changing now more than ever. The truth is that the world changes on the margin. Values (100) such as civility, honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, respect, and humility remain constant. And the importance of literacy, numeracy, and history remain today as important as ever - if not more so. When we consider change, we do it recognizing the importance of these traditional values. (Sheridan President Levy, April, 1997) Slide27:  MS Word Technical Note: To enable the statistics function, go first to Tools / Options / Spelling & Grammar Then check off Show readability statistics Also go to Settings . . . and then check off  Passive sentences. Continue scrolling until you see the Style selections, . . . and then select  Clichés, Jargon, Unclear phrasing, and Wordiness. Go to Word Slide28:  % of Personal Words: He Mine They Her My Them Hers Our Us Him Ours We His She You I Their Your Me Theirs Yours Slide30:  Who is doing what? Who’s responsible? It is submitted, however, that both of these areas of economy can only be developed and the economies realized in dollar savings if the production labour in the plant is under close control. Without control on labour, exercised through programs of performance measurements, work methods improvement and supervisory training, economies will not be realized. With controls in operation, constant checking will occur to ensure that every possible area of savings is investigated and all economies realized in terms of cost reduction and profit improvement. Weasel returns Slide31:  Now we know who’s supposed to be doing what! You cut costs in these areas only if you control labour closely. By control, we mean performance measurements, work methods improvement, and supervisory training. Without controls, you can’t effect savings. But with controls, you can check every possible area to reduce costs and hence to improve profits. The fog lifts? Slide32:  2. The monitor can be had with a variety of optional attachments, according to individual preference. 3. We're requesting that all students complete the enclosed questionnaire so that we may develop and publish examination schedules as early as possible. 4. We are pleased to announce an arrangement with IBM that allows us to offer Thinkpads in the College Bookstore at a substantially discounted price. 5. I think my background and my education match the description of the junior programmer position you advertised. 1. Assistance with the new Student Information System software is available from three recently hired user- support specialists. Slide33:  Yes, of course . . . Toronto Sun National Enquirer Readers Digest But also . . . Globe & Mail Atlantic Monthly The Economist Scientific American Check Week 2 WWW Oral Presentations Slide34:  Now that we’ve cut the fog, let’s discover what can give a powerful boost to your language. Ask yourself what words give the following paragraph its action. Slide35:  The Geiger counter: The inner space of the tube is filled with a thin gas, so that in its normal state the voltage cannot discharge because of the insulation provided by the gas. Now, an alpha-particle or a proton shoots into the counter. It slashes its way through the gas atoms, and with its strong charge it knocks a number of electrons from the shells of the atoms. The freed electrons make a run for the positive wire. They pick up speed and ram into further gas atoms, knocking out more and more electrons which in turn also run for the wire; and so a thick avalanche of electrons is created. The avalanche of electrons dives into the wire and causes a small discharge. Thus a single alpha-particle or proton snowballs into a shower of thousands . . . . Slide36:  Smothered verbs SMOTHERED: An improvement in quality was made. ACTIVE: Quality has improved. SMOTHERED : A sharp decrease in profits was noted. ACTIVE : Profits decreased sharply. SMOTHERED : Arrival of the delegates occurred at 12:15 ACTIVE : The delegates arrived at 12:15. SMOTHERED : Evaporation of the liquid takes place. ACTIVE : The liquid evaporates. SMOTHERED : Increases in sales of 10% were obtained. ACTIVE : Sales increased 10%. Slide37:  Do you remember . . . ? “It is submitted, however, that both of these areas of economy can only be developed and the economies realized in dollar savings if the production labour in the plant is under close control.” This was "mystery writing" or what some might call "weasel writing". Contrast this limp, padded style of writing with the action in the geiger counter piece. Any action was smothered with abstract nouns. The agent of the little action there was, the who did what, is missing. Technical writing often smothers the energy of verbs by the repeated use of what grammatically we label the passive voice. Slide38:  Revise the following sentences to create active verbs. You may have to create a subject if it is not already buried in the original sentence. 1. The UNIX operating system is being used more and more in the business world. 2. All the resumes were filed in the wrong cabinet by the secretary. 3. Because of Daylight Saving Time, all the clocks were being set an hour ahead. 4. First, the product line was examined to determine if it met customers' needs. 5. After just-in-time inventory procedures were introduced, our inventories were cut in half. By whom? Who did it? Slide40:  In summary . . . Write to communicate; don’t write to impress Writing to communicate means write the way you talk And that’s shorter sentences and simpler words Persuasive writing will have more impact if it . . . delivers personal, reader-focused writing remember personal names and pronouns unleashes the power of verbs let the action out of the -tion’s and -ance’s cut those passives Check Week 2 WWW Oral Presentations

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