Monday, August 8, 2011

Simple Language

From the vault on August 14, 2008.
Comic Credit: Bill Watterson

First, a huge shout out to Calvin & Hobbes, one of the best comics ever.Humor can often teach us. Just as sarcastic comments give us a bit of insight into what people are really thinking, we can take lessons from the “funnies” in life.

Academicians tend to write in their own secret code. I recently discovered a theory paper (on a subject that I was thoroughly familiar with) that I could barely understand. The most depressing part was that I wrote it a couple of years ago. I was engrossed in the topic then, and though still informed, my “theory-speak” writing only makes it valuable to me as campfire kindling now.

Once we’ve developed a writing style, it can be hard to break the habit. But to truly advance as communicators, we need to make the effort to write in a way that people outside our specialties can understand.Here in New Voices there are a number of members that specialize in writing. I encourage all of you to use that to your advantage and ask for help and constructive criticism.

To get started, grab the most recent piece of technical writing you’ve been working on and comment on this post with a snippet (abstract, intro paragraph, etc.) and a translation of how you’d present the same couple of sentences to a more general audience.

Practice makes perfect, so let's get practicing!

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