Tips for More Effective Technical Writing

Tip #9 Word Order

Word order in English is important because a phrase or clause merely in a different location in the sentence can alter the meaning. Choose word order that facilitates understanding, not impede it.

ORIGINAL
GPS data on fishing activities and reported landings of Indian mackerel were collected from May 2011 until March 2012 by 10 boats and maps of the distribution of fishing activities and productive fishing grounds were made.
REVISED
GPS data on fishing activities and reported landings of Indian mackerel by 10 boats were collected from May 2011 until March 2012, and maps of the distribution of fishing activities and productive fishing grounds were made.

Adverbs     副詞

1. ORIGINAL
Sometimes, the biomass of such communities weighs up to 40 kg/m2 despite dark and high-pressure environments (Kasparov et al., 2005).
1. REVISED: SOMETIMES
The biomass of such communities sometimes weighs up to 40 kg/m2 despite dark and high-pressure environments (Kasparov et al., 2005).

COMMENTS:
Keep the adverb close to the word (verb, adjective, or other adverb) as possible for easier understanding


2. ORIGINAL
Though laser illuminations have been already applied to optogenetics in previous studies, special setups such as glass fiber, micro manipulator, and laser source are required for most of the studies.
2. REVISED: ALREADY
Though laser illuminations have already been applied to optogenetics in previous studies, special setups such as glass fiber, micro manipulator, and laser source are required for most of the studies.

3. ORIGINAL
In a non-malignant condition, fibrin clots form only at the onset or active state of disease and subsequently disappear because of plasmin digestion or replacement with collagen within a few weeks. However, in cancer, fibrin clot formation and subsequent replacement with collagen continue for as long as the cancer cells survive in the body.
3. REVISED: HOWEVER
In a non-malignant condition, fibrin clots form only at the onset or active state of disease and subsequently disappear because of plasmin digestion or replacement with collagen within a few weeks. In cancer, however, fibrin clot formation and subsequent replacement with collagen continue for as long as the cancer cells survive in the body.

4. ORIGINAL
However, our knowledge on those binding motifs is often biased because existing studies typically focused on limited TF-binding events.
4. REVISED: HOWEVER
Our knowledge on those binding motifs is, however, often biased because existing studies typically focused on limited TF-binding events.

Comment:
Avoid overly using "However," at the beginning of a sentence.


5. ORIGINAL
On the other hand, other studies have shown that past management forms also influenced the current distribution of rare plants (Yamamuro, 2009; Kobayashi et al., 2010).
5. REVISED
Other studies, on the other hand, have shown that past management forms also influenced the current distribution of rare plants (Yamamuro, 2009; Kobayashi et al., 2010).

6. ORIGINAL
We believe that our strategy based on the artificial gene expression system would serve as a basic device for the construction of synthetic cell membrane and also for understanding the principle of functions on cell membrane.
6. REVISED: LESS CONCISE STYLE
We believe that our strategy based on the artificial gene expression system can serve as a basic device for the construction of synthetic cell membranes and also for the understanding of the principle of functions on cell membrane.
(too many prepositions [7] nouns stress concepts)

We believe that our strategy based on the artificial gene expression system can serve as a basic device for constructing synthetic cell membranes and also for understanding the principle of functions on cell membrane.
(verbs stress actions)

Indirect Discourse     間接話法

7. ORIGINAL
First of all, I would like to explain what is Supercritical water.
7. REVISED: to V + to V (weaker pattern)
First of all, I would like to explain what Supercritical water is.

Changes in Meaning

8. ORIGINAL
For all of you researchers who have children and do not know it, the university has a daycare center on campus.
8. REVISED: to V + to V (weaker pattern)
For all of you researcher who do not know it, the university has a daycare center on campus for your children.

This sentence states that some researchers have children that they do not know exist … which is not the intended meaning.
This sentence states that some researchers do not know that a daycare center exists to which they may entrust their children … which is the intended meaning.

Notice how the meaning changes merely by word order

Joe said that he loved only science. Joe does not love anything else.
Joe said that he only loved science. Joe only "loves" science, but does not
necessarily "trust" it.
Joe said that only he loved science. No one else but Joe loves science.
Joe said only that he loved science. Joe said, "I love science." and he did
not say anything else.
Joe only said that he loved science. Joe said, "I love science." But he does not
really mean it in his heart.
Only Joe said that he loved science. No one else said "I love science."

Tables     表のデーター

9. ORIGINAL: DESCENDING AGE
Number of Visitors (2009)
70+ 9%
50-60 45%
30-40 24%
university students under20 4%
junior and high school 2%
elementary school 16%
9. REVISED: ASCENDING AGE
Number of Visitors (2009)
elementary school 16%
junior and high school 2%
university students under 20 4%
30 40 24%
50 60 45%
70+ 9%

 
9. REVISED: DESCENDING BY SHARE ORDER
Number of Visitors (2009)
50 60 45%
30 40 24%
elementary school 16%
70+ 9%
university students 20 4%
junior and high school 2%

10. ORIGINAL
As of 2012, five out of seven species were listed as either endangered or critically endangered species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2012), and there have been increasing concerns regarding conservation of sea turtles
10. REVISED
As of 2012, five out of seven species were listed as either critically endangered or endangered species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2012), and there have been increasing concerns regarding conservation of sea turtles worldwide.

Comments
Since critically endangered outnumbers endangered, put "critically endangered" first.

Seal Type Scientific Name Status
Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) CE
Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) CE
Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) CE
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) E
Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) E
Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) V
Flatback (Natator depressus) ??
[ INDEX ]