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To Communicate, Not to Impress

By Barbara Gastel | April 14, 2008  | None

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the AuthorAID Web site has been redesigned. I like the design:

  • Everything is easy to find.
  • The lettering is easy to read, even when my eyes are tired.
  • The color scheme is simple and friendly.
  • There are no flashing lights, cluttered pictures, or other unneeded items to distract me.

In short, the site was designed to communicate. It wasn’t designed just to impress.

Good scientific writing should be the same way. The goal should be to communicate, not to impress. People reading about science want information and ideas. They are not seeking advanced sentence structures and fancy vocabulary. In fact, such wording can distract readers and interfere with understanding.

Writing in a simple, straightforward style not only can be easier for the author. More important, it makes the writing easier for readers to understand.

Such a style can especially help beginning readers of English to understand the content. It also can help make the content clear to advanced users of English . . . including perhaps some peer reviewers of your papers.

Write to communicate, not to impress. Readers shouldn’t think, “I’m impressed with the English, but I don’t know what the author was saying.” Rather, they should think, “That was so clear and interesting!”

Until next time,

Barbara

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