Plain Writing 1 | Ugur Akinci | Skillshare
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7 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Welcome to Plain Writing 1 !

    • 2. PW Eliminate Abstract Nouns

    • 3. PW Eliminate Abstract Verbs

    • 4. PW Avoid Allusions

    • 5. PW Avoid Double Negatives

    • 6. PW Eliminate Ornaments

    • 7. PW Eliminate IN Phrases

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About This Class


Complete these 8 plain exercises by first opening and reading the EXERCISE file attached, doing the exercises, and then compare what you've accomplished to the SOLUTION file also attached.

The 8 exercises attached are:

  1. Eliminating Abstract Nouns (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)
  2. Eliminating Abstract Verbs (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)
  3. Eliminating Double Negatives (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)
  4. Eliminating Ornaments (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)
  5. Eliminating Allusions (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)
  6. Eliminating IN-Phrases (with Exercise and Solution PDF files attached)

BONUS file: List of Phrases that Begin with "IN".

Post your results and see how they compare to what the other students did. Good luck!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ugur Akinci

Fortune 100 Technical and Business Writer


A Fortune 100 technical and business writer. 

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1. Welcome to Plain Writing 1 !: welcome to playing. Writing. This is Oro Conjour. I've been a Fortune 100 technical writer since 1998. I worked for companies like ADP, Fannie Mae and Honeywell. None of which, of course, is responsible for the content of discourse. I've been a writer, editor and publisher since 1985. During the nineties, I also worked as a journalist covering US State Department and U. S Congress in Washington, D. C. The goal of this course is to show you how to write plain sentences that are easy to understand. Easy to act on and easy to remember. We'll help you cut through bad English. The intended audience for this course is all English speakers and writers. This course will teach you many tips and techniques off plain writing and provide exercises with solutions to help you learn by doing it. There's an increasing need today for simple, clear on ambiguous plain English. Increase your chances of success at work and at home by learning how to write flame. Today is the first day off the rest of your life. Someone said so start learning today. Please jump on to the first video to start the course. Good luck 2. PW Eliminate Abstract Nouns: eliminate abstract noun. Eliminate abstract mounds such as aspect basis, platform arrangement, factor concepts, support unit, set up system structure, platform performance, etcetera, etcetera. It's a very long list, really. Try to eliminate such now owns for good plain writing. Here's a tip for you. Watch for those words that end with a T i o n like facilitation. Those are the kind of abstract announce that you'd like to eliminate from your writing as much as possible. Here's an example. We ignored the financial aspect off the problem. What is an aspect? It really doesn't say anything. How about this? We ignored that the problem would cost us a lot of money. Ah, there you go. The aspect that the abstract noun was referring to was the fact that the problem would cost a lot of money. So if you can say in such plain terms, why use an abstract noun like aspect example? We'd appreciate it if you could please contribute to the facilitation off this task again. I mean, it sounds like a $1,000,000 facilitation, an abstract noun, but it doesn't really say anything. Here's a better version in plain writing with Appreciate it if you could please help us with this task. So now we understand by facilitation. The author was trying to say, Help us. If you can say it's in such simple terms, Why use abstract announce eliminated for good plain writing. Can you tell me what you saw with some specificity? Boy, it's even hard to print house specificity. I mean, if there was an abstract noun, this is it. Why not say, Can you tell me what you saw with some specific details? That's what we mean by specificity. We mean specific details. Plain writing. There's an exercise that goes with this lesson. Rewrite the sentences in the file exercise eliminate abstract now owns, which is attached to this lesson by eliminating the abstract mounds in them. Then you're welcome to compare your results with the solution suggested in the file solution. Eliminate abstract announce also attached to this lesson. Good luck. We have reached the end of this lesson. Police move onto the next lesson. Thank you. 3. PW Eliminate Abstract Verbs: eliminate abstract verbs. Four. Good plain writing. Eliminate abstract verbs like to execute, to expedite, to accomplish, perform. Allow, provide facilitate. That's a famous one to finalize Actuate realize and many, many others, for example. Instead off, we need to expedite the work process. Why can't we just say we need toe work faster? It is much clearer. There's no need to use an abstract were like expedite, which means, in this case, toe work faster. That's good. Plain writing example. Schools were located on the same campus to facilitate the sharing off. Resource is how about schools were located on the same campus for easy sharing off Resource is instead of using an enigmatic abstract verb like to facilitate, which can mean anything and everything you can just say for easy sharing off. Resource is simple as that you have to implement the orders, period. How about you have to carry out the orders, period? You know why use the verb abstract verb to implement when you can just simply say to carry out. That's what plane riding is all about. Is this going to involve any participation on my part? How about this? Well, I have to participate in this simple is that why use involved when you can just simply say , Well, I have to participate in this? Here's another example. Please do not actuate that button. Some engineers love to use this verb toe actuate. Instead, Just simply say, please do not press that button or click that button whatever the case may be. But please don't say to actuate. That's not plain writing. Please rewrite the sentences in the file exercised abstract verbs, which is attached to this lesson by replacing the abstract verbs by more concrete expressions. Then feel free to compare your results with the solution suggested in the file solution. Abstract verbs, which is also attached to this lesson. Thank you. Please move on to the next lesson. 4. PW Avoid Allusions: avoid illusions for plain writing. Avoid popular cultural, literary, religious, sports related or military references. Since everybody may not be familiar with them. Well, what's an illusion, you may ask. An illusion is an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly. It's an indirect or passing reference. Global marketplace demands plain writing that is easy to understand by readers from diverse cultural, religious ethnic backgrounds with very different lifestyles. That's why we need to avoid illusions. Here are some popular references to avoid in plain writing, since there are a lot of people who may have no idea what they refer to. For example, it takes two to tango. Is that your final answer? I made an offer he could not refuse. Go ahead, Make my day. Where's the beef hug awards, etcetera? Here are some sports references to avoid the whole nine yards behind the eight ball touchdown home run, he dropped the ball hole in one. He was a slam dunk, knocked it out of the park. He answered the bell, etcetera. Religious references to avoid. Since the readers do not all belong to the same religion, for example, product evangelist, we are on a crusade that's not kosher. The mecca off technology, the day of judgment has arrived. Jihad, sinful, etcetera. Some military references to avoid task Force theater off operation Shocking or blitz targeting Chain of command. Neutralize Crossing the Rubicon. Literary references to avoid Jekyll and Hyde. Big Brother, Catch 22 Scrooge. Uncle Tom. He's got blood on his hands. Something is the last refuge off scoundrels. Something is rotten in the state, off Denmark so forth. You have reached the end of this lesson. Please move on to the next one. 5. PW Avoid Double Negatives: avoid double negatives. Double negatives are hard to comprehend. Statements with double negatives present an unnecessary cognitive load. It's a load on the mind. Remove at least one off the negatives. Try to rewrite such sentences in a positive mode. Here is the first example this is the original before situation. Do not read this if you are not authorized, so we have the first negative. Do not followed by a second Negative. If you are not authorized the same sentence after removing the double, negatives becomes Read this on Lee. If you are authorized, isn't it much easier to understand? Now Here is another example. It is J SC policy that employees not fight fires that cannot be safely extinguished with a handheld fire extinguisher. So the first negative is employees, not fight, and the second negative is fires that cannot be safely extinguished. Let's see how it goes after we removed the double negatives The same sentence. After removing the double negatives, it is J SC policy that employees fight on Lee Those fires that can be safely extinguished with a handheld fire extinguisher. It is much easier to understand now what the sentence is saying. Another example I cannot help but understand why the application was filed. Did this person understand why the application was filed or not? It is tough to decide, isn't it? Do to those double negatives cannot. And but the plane riding version off the same sentence is as follows. I understand why the application was filed. Straightforward. Here is something that we have to pay attention to in English. The two negatives cannot help and but cancel each other, creating a positive meaning. If you are actually trying to say you have no idea why the application was filed, then police say the following. I cannot understand why the application was filed. Here are some other double negatives that cancel each other and convey a positive meaning. For example, Ahrens plus Onley means are hasn't plus on Lee Translates, as has isn't plus, but is nothing more than is heavens plus. But means have This is an interesting table, isn't it? Here's your exercise. Should you care to do it? Rewrite the sentences in the file exercise. Double negatives attached to this. Listen by eliminating negative components, then feel free to compare your results with the solutions suggested in the file solution double negatives also attached to this lesson. We have reached the end of this lesson. Please move onto the next one. 6. PW Eliminate Ornaments: eliminate ornaments, and by that we mean eliminate hackneyed old frivolous expressions and cliches. As a matter of fact, you may be correct. Just say you may be correct. Ring the bell in order to get service. It's enough to say, ring the bell to get service, To be totally honest about it, we are not happy. How about we are not happy, period? The long and short of it you need to get better greats in plain writing. You need to get better greats. She is one tough cookie. Better. She is a tough woman. Long story short. He moved to friends better. He moved to friends. That said, Let's look at the evidence better. Let's look at the evidence. Let's not go there in plain writing Let's not discuss that. Here is another useful plain writing rule. Avoid local expressions that people from other cultural, religious and national backgrounds would done, understand or may have difficulty understanding. For example, let's touch base on this on Monday. Better. Let's talk about this on Monday. Just wanted to give you a heads up on this issue, better for a global audience. I just wanted to give you information in advance about this issue. We met at the eatery Instead. Try we met at the food court. Nobody likes a price hike. Try. Nobody likes a price increase. She lost a 1,000,000 1/2 dollars. Some readers may think she lost a $1,000,000.50 so it's much better to say she lost 1.5 $1,000,000. I haven't issue with that Better. I have a problem with that. I could care less. I'm aware that this is the accepted popular form off this expression, but semantically it really doesn't make sense, because if you could care less, then you would. And paradoxically, then this statement would not be correct. So it is better and more correct to say I couldn't care less. Another good rule off plain writing. Avoid military and sports analogies and metaphors. The marketing team had a touchdown. Well, if you are not an American football fan, you may not know what a touchdown is, so it's better to say the marketing team had great success. That puts us behind the eight ball well. Does your reader play pool or Azaz? It's called in Europe and other countries billiards. So why don't you just say That puts us in a weak position. She knew how to rally the troops at the HR department. Better. She knew how to rally the HR staff. It was a slam dunk decision. Yeah, but what if your reader is not a basketball fan? So it's better to say it was an easy decision. We killed the competition. Ouch. That's a little bit over. The top is in it, Fry. We want the competition easily. He knocked it out of the ballpark. If you're a baseball fan, you are of course, immediately get it. But if you are not, you may end up scratching your head. So I think this is better. He performs amazingly well. He went ballistic. Try. He became very angry. Here is your exercise. Rewrite the paragraph in the file exercise. Eliminate ornaments attached to this lesson by eliminating as many ornaments as possible. Compare your results with the solution suggested in the file solution. Eliminate ornaments also attached to this lesson. Good luck. We have reached the end of this lesson. Please move on to the next lesson. 7. PW Eliminate IN Phrases: eliminate in phrases that is phrases that either start within or have in in them a good plain writing technique. ISS Eliminating phrases that began with in substituting such phrases with shorter ones, is an effective, plain writing technique. Here are 10 examples. Instead off, in case you can use when or if, like in this sentence in case of an emergency, call 911 How about if there's an emergency? Call 911 instead off in a situation in which you can use when simple as that. For example, in a situation in which the rules are not clear, you may want to consult an expert. Instead, you can say when the rules are not clear. You may want to consult an expert in which is another commonly used in phrase. We can replace it with where, for example, here's the before sentence. I love countries in which there is freedom of speech after I love countries where there is freedom off speech, in addition or in addition to, we can replace it with also to. Besides, depending on the context, here's an example. In addition to being poor, they were illiterate as well. How about besides being poor, they were illiterate as well. Instead, off, in an effort to you can simply use to simple as that. For example, in an effort to attract more tourists, they lowered the room rates instead. You can just say to attract more tourists, they lowered the room rates, in case can comfortably be replaced with if before. Call me in case you can't sleep after. Call me if you can't sleep in conjunction with, you can always use with instead before, in conjunction with the room, you also get a free breakfast. After with the room, you also get a free breakfast instead. Off in connection with you can use four and or by depending on the context again. For example, the detectives arrested her in connection with that robbery. We can let's just say the detectives arrested her. Four. That robbery, you can say instead, off instead off in Leo off. So here's the before sentence. The hotel gave us an IOU in Leo off cash after the hotel gave us an IOU instead off cash. And here's our last example instead off in order that you can use so death. Before I bought you a car in order that you be happy after I bought you a car so that you'd be happy. Here are some more examples from technical writing Switch to another frequency in case the reception is weak. Here's a better sentence. Switch the another frequency. If the reception is weak, it's shorter and better. In addition to grounding the lid, make sure to ground the back panel as well. How can we rewrite this so it sounds better? Reads better. Here's a suggestion. After grounding the lid, you must ground the back panel to. So instead of saying, in addition to Grounding, we just say after grounding in an effort to purge the database, you should reinstall the D one patch. This becomes reinstalled the one patch to purge the database. Doesn't this sound better? I think so. Here's another one. Use our 56 resistor in conjunction with transistor T 33. Re written plainly, it becomes usar 56 resistor with transistor t 33 period in the course off, opening the front valve. Keep an eye on the pressure dial and make sure it remains under 100 PS high. Here's a better sentence when you open the front of our make sure the pressure dial reading remains under 100 P. S. I in view off the fact that switch as one is in the off position, the system will not shut down automatically. How about this? Since the S one switch is in the off position, the system will not shut down automatically. Isn't that better? Check it out. Download the free pdf document attached to this lesson. Phrases that begin within to see more examples. We have reached the end of this lesson. Please move on to the next lesson.