3.3 Write Clearly

Natural Word Order     Buzzwords

In a sentence, follow “[t]he natural word order of English speakers … subject-verb-object. Your sentences will be clearer if you follow this order as closely as possible.”1

This order lets the writer see where clarification is needed and where to place modifiers properly. Words in the wrong place can make you sound foolish.  See some examples of how and a quiz at Misplaced Modifiers.

Each section and paragraph should state what is to be accomplished within or what finding is being described. Technical writing does not have a punchline, climax or surprise ending.

A paragraph might begin with the task,

     “To determine the return on investment …” or

     “To measure the effectiveness of the new policy …”

or the result,

     “Five different segments of customers were identified …” or

     “The training program improved retention …”

… making it clear what the topic is. Then the method and supporting evidence are described. Thus, the reader knows where you are going and can judge the credibility of your statements.

1. A Plain English Handbook, 32.

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