Visualization of Data 1: Parallel Structure

In this blog post, I plan to:

  • explain parallel structure
  • apply the concept of parallel structure to visualization of data
  • helping my readers become better science writers.

OUCH! See? For most of you, that last bullet was cringe-worthy. That's because the bullets all follow on the preposition "to," which should be placed with "explain," "apply," and "helping." You'd never say "to helping," so it just sounds wrong.

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"Read a lot and write a lot" - part 2

I'll confess; I hate reading science journals. I'm fascinated by everything in them, but my mind wanders. But if I'm writing for one, or for anybody else for that matter, articles in the appropriate style are at the top of my reading list. Whatever you're reading, you're increasing your command of the language, and that helps with all of your writing.

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Creating time

Time is our most valuable resource, and it seems to be the most difficult to manage. In our culture, we never seem to have time for what we really want in life. In the past 20 years, I've noticed a big shift: We often greet each other with, "How are you?" or "Howya doin'?" The most common response I used to hear was, "I'm fine." Nowadays, I usually get, "Busy but OK," or "Tired." We hear it on the news and from the pulpit - "Busy" is seen as a badge of honor, and "Tired" is its consequence (and thus also a badge of honor).

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"Read a lot and write a lot"

In Stephen King's book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he describes a great process for helping competent writers become good writers. Although this book is primarily geared toward writers of fiction, I've found it very helpful as a technical writer. My biggest take-away after reading it twice is that to become a good writer, one must "read a lot and write a lot." 

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The technical writer's toolbox - Books

If you're like many native English speakers, you're pretty comfortable speaking correctly, but writing correctly (with all those confusing "punctuation marks" and pronouns that need something called "antecedents") is a bigger challenge. What's worse is that there are so many conflicting opinions on writing. All you have to do is run a quick search for "style guide" on Amazon. The first six pages of search results return relevant products - manuals of style for writing. Where do you begin? Here are the four books I've found most helpful as a science writer.

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SJ's five tips for beginning science writers

Nothing is more frustrating than sending out a memo, or article, or paper and realizing that your reader has no idea what you're talking about! Science writing is a completely different beast from writing in any other discipline. Whether you're a great writer or have little command of the English language, it is possible for you to write excellent science papers, articles, and reports. 

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