Am I making myself clear?
A proposed set of rules and conventions for improving writing style for academic and professional reports.
|RULE||Rule NOT applied||Rule applied|
|1. Use definite, specific, concrete language.||Billy could not talk properly.||Billy’s speech sound system appears disordered, as evidenced by the persistence of syllable-initial velar fronting and syllable-final consonant deletion.|
|2. Do not take short cuts at the expense of clarity.||The DEAP and ERB were done.||Two tests were administered: (1) the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP), and (2) the Early Repetition Battery (ERB).|
|3. A participle phrase at the beginning of a sentence should refer to the grammatical subject.||Analysing the statistics, the assessment suggests developmental delay.||Analysing the statistics, I consider that the assessment suggests developmental delay.|
|4. Avoid florid, lavish words.||The child exhibited partial restriction of movements of the lingual muscles. A condition of insufficient frenulum development was noted.||A short frenulum appeared to restrict elevation of the tongue tip.|
|5. Omit needless words and stock phrases – make each word count.||The questions as to whether…
Due to the fact that…
|6. Express co-ordinated ideas in a similar form.||The patient sat at 24 weeks. At 8/12, crawling began.||The child sat unsupported at six months and crawled at eight months.|
|7. Do not be too casual.||The session got off with a bang, with the child yelling her head off.||Samantha cried when her mother left the room.|
|8. Avoid the use of contractions.||I haven’t arranged to see Sarah again.
They should’ve reported it.
|I have not arranged to see Sarah again.
They should have reported it.
|9. Do not overstate – report accurately.||There is absolutely no vocal abuse.||Father reported no vocally abusive behaviours.|
|10. Do not impute unverifiable psychological states.||Billy was happy today.||Billy was observed to smile when entering the room.|
|11. Avoid the use of intensifiers whenever possible.||The child was very attentive.||The child was attentive.|
|12. Wherever possible put statements positively.||She did not know her colours.||On testing, she could not name red or blue but she did match blocks of the same colour.|
|13. Always label reported information.||He was an early walker.||Mother reported that he walked at six months of age.|
|14. Avoid the use of ‘shudder quotes’ – be specific.||Lisa is a little ‘slow’.||Lisa presents with delayed general development.|
|15. Use gender-neutral language.||Mankind has progressed…
The working man…
|Humanity has progressed…
|16. Avoid sexual stereotyping of roles by not calling attention to irrelevancies.||The male nurse provided the medical report.||The nurse provided the medical report.|
|17. Do not use he or she to refer to all people in a category.||As a child develops he learns to control his environment.||As a child develops it learns to control its environment.
As a child develops they learn to control their environment.
|18. Avoid patronising language.||Women of a certain age…||Women between the ages 50-65 years…|
|CONVENTION||Convention NOT followed||Convention followed|
|1. Spell out any numbers between nought and nine within the text.||The child built a tower of 6 blocks.||The child built a tower of six blocks.|
|2. Use digits for numbers from 10 and above within the text.||Daniel first babbled at thirty-three weeks.||Daniel first babbled at 33 weeks.|
|3. Do not begin a sentence with a digit, always spell out the number.||10 aims and objectives were set.||Ten aims and objectives were set.|
|4. Use a semi-colon (;) to separate years and months when indicating ages.||David was 5.5 years old.
[This would mean five-and-a-half years old]
|David was 5;05 years old.
[This means that he is five years and five months old]
|5. Few reports will require more than four levels of heading. The first is the report title. This is followed by up to three sub-headings.||TITLE