Writing E-Tips
July 2005   
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"When something can be read without effort,
great effort has gone into its writing."

-- Enrique Jardiel Poncela


Avoiding Ambiguous Wording, Part II

Indefinite Pronoun Reference, Incomplete Comparisons,
and Unclear Wording

     Last month we began our look at how to spot and avoid ambiguous wording. This month we continue this focus, looking at three other traps that can muddy your message.

INDEFINITE PRONOUN REFERENCE

Pronouns can be tricky. When you use a pronoun, make sure that is is clear which word it is replacing.

Confusing: When the hot metal die hit the dry felt, it was ruined.
(What was ruined? The die or the felt?)

Better: The dry felt was ruined when the hot metal die hit it.
(Ah, the felt was ruined!)

INCOMPLETE COMPARISONS

When you write a comparison, be sure to include both things that are being compared.

Confusing: The new molds are easier to clean.
(Easier to clean than what?)

Better: The new molds are easier to clean than the old ones.
(The phrase "than the old ones" completes the comparison.)

UNCLEAR WORDING

Be sure that your writing is clear by completing your thoughts.

Unclear: The Operations Manager had hoped to have his efficiency report completed by today, but it isn't finished. (Why isn't it finished?/p>

Clear: The Operations Manager had hoped to have his efficiency report completed by today, but the computer system was down yesterday. (Well, at least we know why the report isn't ready.)

The preceding tips are from
Write for Business:
A Compact Guide to Writing
and Communicating

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Coming in the August Issue:
"
Avoiding Ambiguous Wording, Part III"


Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating
is available for purchase at 1-800-261-0637 ext. 10,
or on the Web at www.upwritepress.com.

"Writing E-Tips" is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105.
Copyright © 2005, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved.