What this handout is all about
This handout will help you revise your papers for word-level clearness, eliminate wordiness and steer apparent of clichs, identify the language that best express your opinions, and select words that fit an instructional audience.
Writing is numerous choices. While you consider a paper, you choose your subject, your approach, your sources, together with your thesis when it’s time for you to write, you need to choose the words you’ll use to talk about your opinions and choose the best way to arrange individuals words into sentences and sentences. Whenever you revise your draft, you are generating choices. You may consider, “Is this really things i am saying?” or “Will readers realise why?” or “Does this appear good?” Finding words that capture your meaning and offer that intending to readers is challenging. When your instructors write such things as “awkward,” “vague,” or “wordy” within your draft, they’re suggesting they need you to definitely certainly focus on word choice. This handout will reveal some common the whole process of word choice and supply methods for selecting the very best words whenever you revise your drafts.
While you’re reading further towards the handout, bear in mind that could sometimes harder to “save” words out of your original sentence rather of write an entirely new sentence to speak about exactly the same meaning or idea. Don’t be too placed on what you’ve already written if you’re prepared to begin a sentence fresh, you may choose words with greater clearness.
For tips about generating substantial revisions, check out our handouts on reorganizing drafts and revising drafts .
“Awkward,” “vague,” and “unclear” word choice
So: you are writing a paper making sense to suit your needs, nonetheless it returns with “awkward” scribbled using the margins. Why, you question, are instructors so thinking about terms like “awkward”? Most instructors use terms such as this to draw your focus on sentences they’d trouble understanding and to encourage you to definitely certainly certainly rewrite individuals sentences more clearly.
Difficulties with word choice aren’t the only real cause of clumsiness, vagueness, or any other problems with clearness. A sentence is strict because of there as being a grammatical issue with it or due to the syntax (what sort of keywords built). Here’s a good example: “Having transported by helping cover their studying, the pizza was rapidly eaten.” This sentence isn’t confusing due to the words I chose—everybody knows what studying, pizza, and eating are. The issue here’s that readers will think that first little bit of the sentence “(Getting transported by helping cover their studying”) complements the following noun that follows it—which, during this situation, is “the pizza”! It doesn’t make lots of sense to indicate the pizza was studying. A Couple of A Few Things I actually was attempting to express was some factor such as this: “Having transported by helping cover their studying, students rapidly ate the pizza.” For people who’ve a sentence that has been marked “awkard,” “vague,” or “unclear,” try and ponder over it within the reader’s cause of view—see if you’re in a position to inform where it changes direction or omits information.
Sometimes, though, problems with clearness are based on word choice. See whether you realize these complaints:
- Misused words —the word doesn’t really mean what the author thinks it’ll.
Example. Cree Indians were a normal culture until French and British settlers shown up.
Revision. Cree Indians were a homogenous culture.
- Words with undesirable connotations or meanings .
Example. I sprayed the ants in their private places.
Revision. I sprayed the ants in their hiding places.
- Having a pronoun when readers can’t tell whom/just what it describes .
Example. My cousin Mike hugged my pal Trey, despite the fact that he didn’t like him greatly.
Revision. My cousin Mike hugged my pal Trey, despite the fact that Mike doesn’t like Trey greatly.
- Jargon or terminology which can make readers work unnecessarily hard. Possibly you need to use a few of individuals words because they are important terms in your field, but don’t throw them in only to “sound smart.”
Example. The dialectical interface between neo-Platonists and anti-disestablishment Catholics provides an formula for deontological thought.
Revision. The dialogue between neo-Platonists and certain Catholic thinkers could be a model for deontological thought.
- Loaded language. We very frequently as authors determine what we mean getting a particular word, but we haven’t ever typed that out for readers. We depend too heavily with this particular word, possibly repeating it frequently, without clarifying the pain you are speaking about.
Example. Society teaches youthful ladies beauty is regarded as the significant quality. To avoid seating disorder to suit your needs along with other health issues, we have to change society.
Revision. Contemporary American popular media, like magazines and films, educate youthful ladies beauty is regarded as the significant quality. To avoid seating disorder to suit your needs along with other health issues, we have to modify the images and heroines women can be found.
Sometimes the issue isn’t selecting precisely the right word to talk about an idea—it’s being “wordy,” or using words your readers may regard as “extra” or inefficient. Browse this list for several examples. Across the left really are a handful of phrases involving three, four, or higher words where less can perform across the right really are a handful of shorter substitutes:
I came across the realization that
I recognized that
Writing by having an academic audience
When you purchase words to talk about your opinions, you need to think not just about how come sense and sounds simpler for you, exactly what do appear sensible and appearance simpler to readers. Considering your audience additionally for their expectations can help you decide about word choice.
Some authors believe that academic audiences expect individuals to “sound smart” by using big or technical words. The answer reason for academic writing isn’t to look smart—it should be to communicate a quarrel or information clearly and convincingly. So academic writing includes a certain a unique and you also, as being a student, are starting to understand to determine because style. You’ll most likely end up using words and grammatical constructions that you simply didn’t utilized in your school writing. The risk occurs when you consciously attempted to “sound smart” and make use of words or structures which are very unfamiliar to suit your needs, you might produce sentences your readers can’t understand.
When writing for your professors, think simplicity. Using simple words doesn’t indicate simple ideas. In a academic argument paper, how come the thesis and argument sophisticated would be the connections presented in simple, apparent language.
Bear in mind, though, that easy and apparent doesn’t mean casual. Most instructors won’t be pleased in situation your paper appears being an immediate message or even an e-mail having a friend. It’s usually simpler to prevent slang and colloquialisms. Look at this situation and exactly how a professor would certainly react to it whether it were the thesis statement in the paper: “Moulin Rouge really bit since the singing attracted along with the costume colors were nasty, KWIM?”
Selecting and utilizing terms
When writing academic papers, it’s frequently useful to uncover terms and make use of them within your paper along with your thesis. This comments across the crucial among repetition and redundancy of terms and works through among using terms within the thesis statement.
Repetition versus. redundancy
Both of these phenomena aren’t always exactly the same. Repetition may well be a good factor. We very often must use our terms several occasions within the paper, particularly in subject sentences. Sometimes there’s with no replacement for that essential aspect terms, purchasing a weakened term as being a synonym are able to do more damage than good. Repeating terms emphasizes details and signals for that readers the argument remains supported. This kind of repetition can provide your paper cohesion that is created by conscious choice.
In comparison, when you are frustrated, tiredly repeating exactly the same nouns, verbs, or adjectives, or making exactly the same point again and again, you’re most likely being redundant. During this situation, you’re swimming aimlessly over the same points as is available not made the decision what your argument is really or when you are really fatigued and clearness escapes you. Reference the “Strategies” section below for recommendations on revising for redundancy.
Building apparent thesis statements
Writing apparent sentences is essential in your writing. For your purpose in this handout, let’s concentrate on the thesis statement—one of the extremely fundamental sentences in academic argument papers. You can apply these pointers with other sentences in your papers.
A typical issue with writing good thesis statements is selecting the language that best capture both critical factors and the requirement for the essay’s argument. It’s tough to condense several sentences or several pages into concise terms that, when develop while you sentence, can effectively describe the argument.
However, hanging out to obtain the right words offers authors a substantial edge. Concise and appropriate terms may help both author along with the readers monitor what the essay may have and exactly how it’ll show it. Graders, particularly, need to visit clearly stated thesis statements. (For more on thesis statements generally, please reference our handout .)
Example. You’ve been utilized on write an essay that contrasts the forest and shore scenes in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. You’re employed about this for just about any day or two, producing three versions in the thesis:
- Version 1:There are many important river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn.
- Version 5:The contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn advise coming back to nature.
- Version 3:Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn signifies that to obtain the true expression of yank democratic ideals, you have to leave “civilized” society and return to nature.
Let’s think about the term choice issues of these statements. In Version 1, the term “important”—like “interesting”—is both overused and vague it indicates the author comes with a opinion but gives very little indication regarding the framework of the perception. Consequently, readers sees that you’re likely to discuss river and shore scenes, whilst not what you’re vulnerable to say. Version 5 is definitely an noticable difference: the text “return to nature” provide readers a better idea in which the paper is headed. However, she still takes proper proper care of n’t know how this go back to nature is important for that understanding in the novel.
Finally, generate Version 3, this is a more efficient thesis because it offers a classy argument along with the terms acquainted with have this argument are apparent. No under three terms or concepts are apparent: the contrast between river and shore scenes, coming back to nature, and American democratic ideals.
Alone, an essential term is only a topic—an area of the argument whilst not the argument itself. The argument, then, becomes apparent for that readers while using strategies that you simply combine terms.
Methods for effective word choice
- Be cautious whenever using words you don’t know. Take a look at how they are utilized in context and check their dictionary definitions.
- Be cautious while using the thesaurus. Each word listed as being a synonym for the word you’re searching up could have a unique unique connotations or shades of meaning. Use a dictionary therefore the synonym you’re thinking about really fits what you’re saying.
- Don’t try and impress readers or appear unduly authoritative. For instance, which sentence is clearer to suit your needs: “a” or “b”?
- Underneath the present conditions nowadays, marriage practices generally demonstrate a larger volume of homogeneity.
- Within our culture, people have a inclination to marry individuals who are much like themselves. (Longman, p. 452)
- When you revise for accurate and efficient adjectives, make sure you are first using accurate and efficient nouns and verbs. For instance, for anybody who’s revising the sentence “This is a good book that informs regarding the Civil War,” consider whether “book” and “tells” are as strong as they could be when you be worried about “good.” (An even more effective sentence might read “The novel describes the encounters in the Confederate soldier with the Civil War.” “Novel” allows us to know which kind of book it’s, and “describes” allows us to know more details on the way a book communicates information.)
- Try the slash/option technique, that’s like brainstorming whenever you write. When you are getting stuck, create a number of options for any questionable word or maybe a confusing sentence, e.g. “questionable/inaccurate/vague/inappropriate.” Pick the word that best signifies your meaning or combine different terms to condition all you mean.
- Search for repetition. If you think maybe it’s, determine whether it’s “good” repetition (using terms which are crucial and useful to meaning) or “bad” repetition (redundancy or idleness in reusing words).
- Write your thesis in five different ways. Make five modifications in the thesis sentence. Compose five sentences that express your argument. Make an effort to generate four other choices with a thesis sentence you’ve already written. Find five possible ways to communicate your argument in a single sentence for that readers. (We’ve used this technique—which within the last five sentences are you able to prefer?)As we write a sentence we make choices. The majority are less apparent than the others, therefore it could seem like we’ve written the sentence to be able to everybody knows how. By writing out five modifications in the thesis, you can start to speak to the selection of choices. The very best version might be a mixture of phrasings and words all five versions, or possibly the main one version that states it best. By literally spelling out some options on your own, you may create better decisions.
- Read your paper aloud and at… a… slow… pace. This can be done alone or obtaining a buddy, roommate, TA, etc. When read aloud, your written words should appear sensible for you personally as well as other listeners. In situation your sentence appears confusing, rewrite it to actually result in the meaning apparent.
- Instead of looking in the paper itself, place it lower and merely talk utilizing your argument as concisely as you can. In situation your listener rapidly and merely comprehends your essay’s primary point and significance, next make certain the written test can be as apparent since the dental presentation was. If, however, your listener keeps requesting clarification, you will need to focus on selecting the most effective terms for your essay. Should you this in exchange obtaining a buddy or classmate, be reassured that if you’re the talker or possibly the listener, your articulation skills will establish.
- Have somebody new to the problem begin to see the paper and explain words or sentences he/she finds confusing. Don’t brush-off this reader’s confusion by presuming they just doesn’t know enough regarding the subject. Rather, rewrite the sentences so your “outsider” readers can follow along whatsoever occasions.
- Begin to see the Writing Center’s handouts on style , passive voice. and proofreading for more tips.
Items to think about
- Shall We Be Held Held sure what each word I exploit really means? Shall We Be Held Held positive, or can one lookup?
- Have I stumbled upon the very best word or simply settled for apparent, or possibly the simplest, one?
- Shall We Be Held Held trying an excessive amount of to impress my readers?
- What’s the simplest way to create this sentence? (Frequently it enables you to definitely answer this will you are trying it loud. How can you express it to a person?)
- What are regards to my argument?
- May I outline out my argument only using these terms? What others must i have? That We not need?
- Have I produced my very own, personal terms, and possess I simply given what came out as if key ones inside the assignment? If I’ve because of the terms, may i’ve found better ones within my own vocabulary, the manuscripts, my notes, the dictionary, or possibly the thesaurus to create myself clearer?
- Are my terms too specific? (Would they cover the whole selection of my argument?) May I consider specific examples within the sources that can come beneath the essential aspect term?
- Are my terms too vague? (Would they cover greater than all of the different my argument?)
Works consulted/additional sources
We consulted these works while writing the very first kind of this handout. This isn’t an extensive set of sources across the handout’s subject, and then we encourage you to definitely certainly certainly do your own personal research to obtain the latest publications concerning this subject. Don’t employ this list as being a model for the format from the reference list, as it can certainly not match the citation style you employ. For assist with formatting citations, browse the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .
The American Heritage Book of British Usage: An Operating and Authoritative Self-self-help guide to Contemporary British (Boston: Houghton, 1996).
Anson, Chris M. and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman Guide for Authors and Readers, second erection disorder. (New You can: Addison, 2001).
Grossman, Ellie. The Grammatically Correct Guide: A Dynamic and Unorthodox Review of Common British for the Linguistically Challenged (New You can: Hyperion, 1997).
Prepare, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: The easiest method to Improve Your Own Writing (Boston: Houghton, 1985).
O’Conner, Patricia C. Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Self-self-help guide to Better British in Plain British (New You can: Putnam, 1996).
Tarshis, Craig. The easiest method to end up being the perfect Own Best Edito:r The Toolkit for Everybody Who Writes (New You can: Three Rivers P, 1998).
Manley, Ernest. Style: Ten Learning Clearness and elegance, sixth erection disorder. (New You can, Addison, 2001).
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