Tips for More Effective Technical Writing

Tip #6 CONCISENESS Pt. 2     簡潔性

Basic Guidelines
Use only the minimum number of words to communicate your message. Readers will then sense that the writer is NOT wasting (stealing?) their time!

Original The number of eukaryotic cells is larger than the number of prokaryotic cells. 15 words
Revised Eukaryotic cells outnumber prokaryotic cells. 5 words
Overall decrease in the number of words  =       66.7%

1. Avoid overly using "one of the"

1. ORIGINAL
For further space developments, cost reduction of a transportation system is one of the most important tasks. (17)
1. REVISED: DELETE "ONE OF THE"
For further space developments, cost reduction of a transportation system is a most important task. (15)

2. ORIGINAL
One of the main goals of in-situ dating is to calibrate Martian chronology.
2. REVISED: DELETE "ONE OF THE"
A main goal of in-situ dating is to calibrate Martian chronology.

3. ORIGINAL
One of the approaches to those problems is constructing miniature neural networks which fit within the microscopic field.
3. REVISED: DELETE "ONE OF THE"
One approach to those problems is constructing miniature neural networks which fit within the microscopic field.

COMMENTS
Most non-native speakers learn the use "the" with superlative forms (最上級). Even though this is true for "almost all" situations, it is not true for "all" situations. In this case, the group is labeled "most important tasks", of which there are at least two. Thus, "an important task" becomes possible.

2. Avoid overly formal phrasing

4. ORIGINAL
In order to optimize the coil design of the new wire, we changed the number of the layers. (18)
4. REVISED: VERB
To optimize the coil design of the new wire, we changed the number of the layers. (16)

5. ORIGINAL
In order to accomplish the objective I need to gain more technical knowledge, to know business practices and to improve my ability to communicate better with people having different backgrounds in order to establish a relationship of mutual trust.
5. REVISED
To accomplish the objective I need to gain more technical knowledge, to know business practices and to improve my ability to communicate better with people having different backgrounds so that I can establish a relationship of mutual trust.
To accomplish the objective we must gain more technical knowledge, know business practices and improve my ability to communicate better with people having different backgrounds so that we can establish a relationship of mutual trust.


(see "04 Infinitives")

Excessive use of infinitive forms

6. ORIGINAL
Infrastructure, legal framework, human resources, and people's contributive actions are the four areas that were not fully seen in Nan and need to be improved in order to environmentally sustain the province.
6. REVISED: NEED → MUST
Infrastructure, legal framework, human resources, and people's contributive actions are the four areas that were not fully seen in Nan and need to be improved to environmentally sustain the province.
Infrastructure, legal framework, human resources, and people's contributive actions are the four areas that were not fully seen in Nan and must be improved for environmentally sustaining the province.

7. ORIGINAL
The biomass of such communities sometimes weighs up to 30 kg/m2 in spite of dark and high-pressure environments (Kasparov et al., 2005).
7. REVISED: IN SPITE OF → DESPITE
The biomass of such communities sometimes weighs up to 30 kg/m2 despite dark and high-pressure environments (Kasparov et al., 2005).

8. ORIGINAL
However, clinical practice guidelines and private hospital guidelines (standard clinical guidelines) are not explicit enough to help every hospital and every healthcare provider in every situation. Identification of all possible options and their outcomes would be very difficult, especially in light of each hospital's unique situation.
8. ADJECTIVE/OTHER
However, clinical practice guidelines and private hospital guidelines (standard clinical guidelines) are not explicit enough to help every hospital and every healthcare provider in every situation. Identification of all possible options and their outcomes would be very difficult, especially because of each hospital's unique situation.

COMMENTS
Though the original sentence is perfectly good English, the use of "in order to" makes it overly formal when the formality is relatively unimportant in the context. Thus, the infinitive form (不定詞) is generally sufficient or reword the sentence. Here are some common "overly formal" patterns to be careful about, and also avoid overly using the phrase "the fact that".

considering the fact
due to the fact
for the reason
in light of the fact
on the grounds
owing to the fact
thanks to
the reason for
because, since, why
despite the fact
notwithstanding the fact
regardless of the fact
although, even though
it is crucial
it is important
it is necessary
there is a need/necessity for
must, should
if it should transpire/happen
in a situation in which
in the event
on the occasion of
under circumstances in which
if, when
has the ability to
has the capacity for
has the opportunity to
is able to
is in a position to
can

3. Avoid repeating the same words needlessly (unless they have persuasive power)

9. ORIGINAL
The leadership of these department heads is concerned with three main factors: safety controlling, safety coaching, and safety caring. (19)
9. REVISED: ADJECTIVE/OTHER
The leadership of these department heads is concerned with three main safety factors: controlling, coaching, and caring. (17)

Bulleted Text in Presentation Slides

Notice how the author has needlessly repeated two words:


Sustainability = 5 times

Meaning = 5 times

15 words
Meaning of Sustainability
Click here for better reading.

Sustainability = 1 time

Meaning = 1 time

7 words (↓ 50%!)

★ easier for audience to digest
Meaning of Sustainability
Click here for better reading.
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