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By Johannes Helmold

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Making Sense, Instead of Making Nonsense

Your primary goal as a writer is to convey a message clearly and effectively.

  1. Avoid writing for yourself only. Think about how your audience will read your writing.
  2. Avoid overly-academic language if you can. Most professors and readers in general prefer a clear, direct style rather than being verbose.
  3. Have others read your writing before handing it in. From their responses, assess if you have made your writing clear or not.
  4. Don’t add fluff. Be concise and vigorous in style. Every word, sentence, and paragraph should count.
  5. Each part of your writing piece should clearly connect to the other parts of your writing piece.

Word Order: Switching What Doesn’t Sound Right

How you frame sentences is extremely important in conveying meaning. With even one word in a different place, a sentence can take on a different meaning. To keep your writing fluid and understandable, follow these tips:

  1. Stay away from the old style of sentence structuring, like, “There exist many animals that live without spines” it is better to write, “There are many animals that exist without spines.”
  2. Don’t omit articles when not necessary. Sometimes people believe taking out “the” and “a” makes them sound more professional, but instead it makes readers strain over your writing.
  3. Check if each sentence is complete and that the punctuation you use is correct. For instance, if you use a semicolon between two independent clauses.
  4. Sentences and phrases should roll off the tongue.

Mission: Convey Your Message

You can write with awesome vocabulary and have amazing ideas, but if you don’t deliver your message in a clear way, all that is lost.

  1. Create an outline before writing. This will keep your writing organized. The worst thing you can do is treat writing like a rant.
  2. Make a clear statement about your main point in the introduction of the writing piece.
  3. Reiterate and reinforce your main statement made in the beginning through subsequent paragraphs. Don’t get sidetracked.
  4. In the conclusion of your writing piece, don’t forget to restate your main points and to remind readers why your main topic is important.
  5. Stay personable in tone: don’t write like a robot.

Staying on Topic or Else

Sometimes writers veer off topic either consciously or unconsciously. Leaving side notes within papers or articles is not a good idea. Here are some tips to keep your writing on track:

  1. If you want to write about side information, use footnotes.
  2. Make sure you don’t have random sentences in your paragraphs. Each sentence should move the main topic forward.
  3. Make sure you don’t you have random quotes. Sometimes writers get lazy and don’t respect the context with which the quotes are supposed to be in.
  4. Check your outline periodically during the writing process. You can introduce different topics from what is stated in your outline, but make sure it matches your main topic and is connected to your subtopics.
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