Quick Tip: "elegant variation" wastes your readers' precious processing power

by Heath Sledge

In the piece I'm editing right now, my client was talking in one sentence about a set of "frameworks," and then in the next sentence she referred to some "tools." It took me about two seconds of puzzling before I realized that "tools" was referring back to the frameworks.

In academic writing, it's usually best to just use the same word for a key concept over and over rather than substituting synonyms.

Although our elementary school teachers insisted that we shouldn't use repetitive vocabulary, that's not necessarily true in academic writing. When the ideas are highly complex, the language shouldn't be.

Every time your reader has to stop and puzzle over what you meant ("are tools the same thing as frameworks?"), she uses a little bit of cognitive energy that should have gone towards understanding your argument.

Clear as many roadblocks as you can for the reader so she can focus on the logic and support and stakes of your argument. 


Disclaimer :)

by Heath Sledge

I just discovered that some people think that a sporadically updated blog means the website owner is no longer interested in the site. Not true!

I only update this blog at the confluence of three things: when I have something to say, when I have time, and when I feel like it.  Those three things haven't happened together in a while now. (I had to force time to add this four-sentence update!) 

Quick Tip: paragraph transitions

by Heath Sledge

Transitions come at the beginning of the transitioned-to paragraph, not at the end of the transitioned-away-from paragraph.

The end of a paragraph is a spot for a button--like a punchline. It wraps up all the great info you gave in that paragraph into a tidy little sentence and puts a little rhetorical bow on it.

(If you want the long version, you can read more here.)