Tips for More Effective Technical Writing

Tip #11 Consistency

Achieving and maintaining consistency is taken for granted in good writing. Consistency in sentence structure, pronoun use, verb tenses, active/passive voice and other aspects of the English language greatly helps readers in their effort to understand your hypotheses, problem statement methods, results, discussion, interpretations … simply: your writing. Consistency elevates the probability that your writing will convey the intended message.

Consistency includes using the same margins, locating your page number in the same place, employing the same capitalization conventions, using the same font for the same type of content, adhering to spacing and alignment rules, … the list goes on. Here are a few for your consideration.

Consistency in Verb Tense     動詞の時制

1. ORIGINAL
He asked her and she is quick to accept.
1. REVISED:
He asked her and she was quick to accept.
He asked her and she quickly accepted.

2. ORIGINAL
The research stated that last week's WHO report listed two types of new viruses.
2. REVISED:
The research stated that last week's WHO report had listed two types of new viruses.

Consistency in Voice     態

3. ORIGINAL
We enjoy research, and experiments are liked by us too.
3. REVISED: ACTIVE VOICE VS. PASSIVE VOICE
We enjoy research and experiments.

4. ORIGINAL
Action on the submitted manuscript for publication is being considered by two referees, and the editor is also reviewing the materials.
4. REVISED: PASSIVE VOICE VS. PASSIVE VOICE
Action on the submitted manuscript for publication is being considered by two referees, and the materials are also being reviewed by the editor.
both verbs are in the passive form

Two referees are considering action on the submitted manuscript for publication, and the editor is also reviewing the materials.
both verbs are in the active form preferred, but choose the best subject

see "01 Weak Subjects"

Consistency in Clauses     節

5. ORIGINAL
He asked whether I had a car and would pick him up.
5. REVISED:
He asked whether I had a car and whether would pick him up.

6. ORIGINAL
If the temperature is increased by 5°C and the incubation time is shortened by 1.5 minutes, …
6. REVISED:
If the temperature is increased by 5°C and if the incubation time is shortened by 1.5 minutes, …

Consistency in Gerund Objects     動名詞の目的語の句

7. ORIGINAL
Optimizing both the design of the coil and the multi-coil method are critical.
7. REVISED:
Optimizing both the coil design and the multi-coil method are critical …

8. ORIGINAL
We believe that our strategy can serve as a fundamental device for the construction of synthetic cell membrane and also for understanding the principle of functions on cell membrane.
8. REVISED:
We believe that our strategy can serve as a fundamental device for the construction of synthetic cell membranes and also for the understanding of the principle of functions on cell membrane.
(awkward style: too many prepositions)

We believe that our strategy can serve as a fundamental device for constructing synthetic cell membranes and also for understanding the principle of functions on cell membrane.

Consistency in Subjects     主語

9. ORIGINAL
Therefore, quality assurance and the standardization of healthcare have emerged as important issues.
9. REVISED
Therefore, assurance of quality and standardization of healthcare have emerged as important issues.
N1 of N2 and N3 of N4

Therefore, quality assurance and healthcare standardization have emerged as important issues.
N2N1 and N4N3
Notice in this more concise version how "quality" and "healthcare" are now used as adjectives

Consistency in Direct Object Phrases     目的語の句

10. ORIGINAL
Simple neuronal circuits are required to investigate information representation in the brain and for comparing mathematical neural network models. (to V + Ving)
10A. REVISED: TO V + TO V (WEAKER PATTERN)
Simple neuronal circuits are required to investigate information representation in the brain and to compare mathematical neural network models.

10B. REVISED: Ving + Ving (stronger pattern)
Simple neuronal circuits are required for investigating information representation in the brain and for comparing mathematical neural network.

Consistency in Comparisons     比較の句

11. ORIGINAL
Otawa et al. (2007) and Wu and Liu (2009) reported that the number of virus particles in a typical wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) varies from 108 cells/ml to 1010 cells/ml, which is obviously higher than in any other environment studied to date.
11A. REVISED:
Otawa et al. (2007) and Wu and Liu (2009) reported that the number of virus particles in a typical wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) varies from 108 cells/ml to 1010 cells/ml, which is obviously higher than the number of virus particles in any other environment studied to date.

11B. REVISED: PASSIVE VOICE
Otawa et al. (2007) and Wu and Liu (2009) reported that the number of virus particles in a typical wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) varies from 108 cells/ml to 1010 cells/ml, which is obviously higher than that in any other environment studied to date.

Consistency in Prepositional Phrases     前置詞の句

12. ORIGINAL
Clarification was also needed regarding design changes resulting from the energy transfer and problems associated with the steam generator construction.
12. REVISED:
Clarification was also needed regarding design changes resulting from the energy transfer and from the problems associated with steam generator construction.

Consistency in Relative Pronouns     関係代名詞

13. ORIGINAL
Results of investigating whether this assumption was valid proved that this assumption was actually valid, and this method is a viable means for obtaining quantitative changes in muscular activity.
13. REVISED:
Results of investigating whether this assumption was valid proved that this assumption was actually valid, and (and also proved) that this method is a viable means for obtaining quantitative changes in muscular activity.

Consistency in Introductory Phrases     序句

14. ORIGINAL
In the first place, temperature must be maintained at 110°K. Secondly, the catalyst must be …
14. REVISED:
In the first place, temperature must be maintained at 110°K. In the second place, the catalyst must be …
Firstly, temperature must be maintained at 110°K. Secondly, the catalyst must be …

15. ORIGINAL
As to the "spatial" aspect, location of the illumination is recorded by low magnification CCD image (that) is normally used for videotaping bodywall movements. In "temporal" concern, time lag between switching on the laser scan by confocal microscope and illumination by laser depends on the confocal microscope system and scanning condition.
15. REVISED: PARALLEL STRUCTURE
As to "spatial" aspect, location of the illumination is recorded by low magnification CCD image (that) is normally used for videotaping bodywall movements. As to the "temporal" aspect, time lag between switching on the laser scan by confocal microscope and illumination by laser depends on the confocal microscope system and scanning condition.

CONSISTENCY IN WORD USE/SPELLING

16. ORIGINAL
… is normally used for videotaping bodywall movements. ... In this protocol, motor activity was monitored by transmission images of the body wall contraction with a CCD camera.
16. REVISED:
… normally used for videotaping body wall movements. ... In this protocol, motor activity was monitored by transmission images of the body wall contraction with a CCD camera.
"body wall" used as 2 words

… normally used for videotaping bodywall movements. ... In this protocol, motor activity was monitored by transmission images of the bodywall contraction with a CCD camera. .
"bodywall" used as 1 word
(check current use in your field)

17. ORIGINAL
Clinical practice guidelines are developed to enable health-care professionals and patients to make decisions about screening, prevention, or treatment of a specific health condition. However, clinical practice guidelines and private hospital guidelines (standard clinical guidelines) are not explicit enough to help each hospital and healthcare provider in every situation; this is because …
17. REVISED:
Clinical practice guidelines are developed to enable healthcare professionals and patients to make decisions about screening, prevention, or treatment of a specific health condition. However, clinical practice guidelines and private hospital guidelines (standard clinical guidelines) are not explicit enough to help each hospital and healthcare provider in every situation; this is because …
"healthcare" used as 1 word
2 words:    health care / health care
hyphenated: health-care/health-care
(check current use in your field)

Consistency in Punctuation Use, especially the comma [ , ]     句読法

18. ORIGINAL
Protein serves different functions in the body: reinforces structures, transports materials, identifies cell and others.
18. REVISED:
Protein reinforces structures, transports materials, identifies cell, and provides other functions in the body as well.

In a series consisting of three or more words, phrases, or clauses with no internal punctuation of their own, separate the elements with commas. Always use a comma before the conjunction that introduces the last item.

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