Udemy - Business & Technical Writing Immersion 2 - Edit for readability

header
接著上一篇完成草稿後,便可以開始寫作了。這篇是關於在寫作時如何簡化使用的用字從而讓讀者更容易理解。以下是一些要注意的事情,清單有點長,可是都比較有用。

老師建議一氣呵成地寫完文章後才修飾句子令讀者容易理解。看看文章是否符合下列清單的要求,如果有的話先行圈下,在找出所有問題後才一次過修改。

> Repeat key words

不要把相同意思的名詞用不同的詞語表達,例如 forecast, project, estimate, predict, foresee 等等都是相同的意思,那就在整篇文章裡決定只能用哪一個,否則這句使用 forecast、那句使用 foresee,整篇文章就會令人覺得很混淆。例如,在程式文件中,client,customer,user 都是一組很容易互相使用的詞語,所以也只能在整篇文章中使用其中一個。

另外,在次標題(Subheading)出現的字眼要在內文裡重覆出現,如果同一段有字詞重覆出現,後大機會這才是真正的次標題。

> Ensure paragraphs begin with points

每一個段落的開頭第一句最好是在 Outline 中想好的那一句。

> Vertical Lists

以列表來紀錄東西可以分兩種:

第一種列表的用法是用來清楚地表達一個系列的東西,例如一件東西的好處或者是一些步驟等。

以列表來表達的話要注意每一點上的文法要一樣,還有如果列點數目多於 7 點的話最好便把它們分類,因為人每次只能記住最多 7 件事。以下是一個關於如何儲存電郵資料的步驟例子:

1. Click the mailbox icon.
2. Input your ID. If you need an ID, call security.
3. The system saves the email to disk.

我們可以看見第二點中,If you need an ID, call security. 是一句評語而不是一個步驟的一部份,這句不應該放在列表中。

另外第三點中,這句本身並不是一個步驟,所以應該把整句移除並放到文章的其他地方裡。

所以最後會變成這樣:

1. Click the mailbox icon.
2. Input your ID.

第二種列表的用法是用來移除一些重複的詞語令文字變得簡潔。例如:

改寫前 改寫後
QuickDraw provides a complete set of line-drawing tools for your personal computer. QuickDraw provides free hand tools as well as common shapes. QuickDraw provides a full palette of 256 colors. QuickDraw provides scaling. QuickDraw also lets you rotate shapes and text. QuickDraw can save your work in GIF, TIP, Acrobat, and most other popular file formats. QuickDraw provides a complete set of line-drawing tools for your personal computer:
<ol><li>Free-hand tools</li><li>Common shapes</li><li>Full palette of 256 colors</li><li>Scaling</li><li>Shape and test rotation</li><li>Popular file formats such as GIF, TIP, and Acrobat.</li></ol>

> Use graphics to teach

關於以圖表來描述事情有三件事要注意:

  1. 如果要使用圖表的話,切記要在圖表前先介紹這張圖表的作用,令讀者有心理準備去理解圖表的內容。
  2. 切記在標明圖表內的每個組成部份。
  3. 切記在圖表後加評語,例如這張圖表帶來了甚麼結論,因為圖表裡的資料只是作為支援,最重要的是結論本身。

> Be concrete and specific

我們寫文件時要寫得具體。例如:

改寫前 改寫後 評語
Contact your representative. Call your accountant, Jan Smit, at (888) 123-4567. 直接指示以甚麼方式去做。
Recently… In the 4th Quarter 直接地指示時間。
ASAP, COB Friday, 5:30 pm 直接地指示時間。
several, numerous, various, a number of at least three 直接地指示數量。
several options options 直接地指示時間。
X is a very dangerous drug. X can cause acute kidney failure 防止模糊的形容詞,直接指出後果。
Based on… Using / cite the edivence 直接提供證據。

> Use active voice

可以的話最好避免使用被動式,雖然我們自小被教導成要多寫被動式來令文章看起來更客觀,可是被動式會令文章的內容不夠具體從而變得模糊,例如沒有了主詞(Subjects),我們其實並不知道這件事是由甚麼引起的。

可是,以下的兩個例子是可以的,因為主詞是甚麼並不重要。

  • I am interested in … (who interested you doesn’t matter)
  • A is correlative with B

老師在這裡教了四個移除被動式的方法:

方法 改寫前 改寫後
告訴讀者「誰做了這件事」。 The water was tested for purity. The EPA tested the water for purity.
如果沒有人在意這件事是誰做的,直接移除被動式。 The water is considered safe to drink. The water is safe to drink.
移除「that, who, which 加動詞」的格式。 We ate the doughnuts that were left in the kitchen. We ate the doughnuts left in the kitchen.
讓動詞來描述,例如我們可以用 The passage suggests、The contract requires 、 The data suggest 或 The pattern indicates 等。 The doughnut shop was closed at midnight. The doughnut shop closed at midnight.

> Use present and past tense if possible

在所有語言中唯一都有出現的兩種時態只有 present tense 和 past tense。所以可以的話只使用這兩個時態便可以了。

將來式也要盡可能避免,因為將來式中的 will 有保證會做的意思。如果真是要描述將來發生的事情,可以用 propose / plan / budget / expect / offer / intend / can / estimate 等等來具體表達,又或者是直接寫時間代替。如果寫時間的話,我們可以使用以下的例子:

  • Tomorrow, we travel to Europe
  • Next, put Tab A into Slot B
  • After you log-on to your computer, you input our username and password.

> Avoid would, should, could (subjective verb)

我們應避免使用 would、should 和 could 的原因也是因為防止混淆。

我們有兩個方法來防止:

  1. 避免使用 would、should 和 could
  2. 用以下詞語來具體描述:may, might, can, need to, recommend, suggest, advise, must or shall
改寫前 改寫後
Pro forma fully-drawn capitalization would represent a minimal increase in debt/capitalization to 56.9%. Pro forma fully-drawn capitalization represents a minimal increase in debt/capitalization to 56.9%.
Any re-engagement on the rebate business would not begin until November or later when the company should be successful at regaining this business. Any re-engagement on the rebate business does not begin until November or later when the company is successful at regaining this business.
Assuming current total debt of $80MM, total leverage could be ~3.34x and the Company should be in compliance at that level. Assuming current total debt of $80MM, total leverage might be ~3.34x and the Company must comply at that level.
Given the timing, perhaps we should obtain email approval of the renewal. Given the timing, perhaps we need to obtain email approval of the renewal.

> Eliminate ambiguous pronouns

我們最好不使用代名詞,原因是代名詞很容易令讀者代入了錯的東西造成誤解。例如, The system has a button on the screen. It is red. 這句裡的 It 指的是 The system 還是 button 還是 screen 呢?

關於代名詞有三個做法:

方法 改寫前 改寫後
把所有的 it 換掉成代替的名詞來讓讀者明白。 The computer has an LCD screen with a switch on the side panel. We need to fix it before it crashes. The computer has an LCD screen with a switch on the side panel. We need to fix the screen before the computer crashes.
是把所有的 this、that、these 和 those 改成名詞。 The increased budget funds two clinics in the HUD Zone. We require this to meet HHS guidance. That is also a Congressional mandate. The increased budget funds two clinics in the HUD Zone. We require this budget to meet HHS guidance. That funding is also a Congressional mandate.
把所有「there 或 it 加上 to be verb」格式換掉。 There are two exits to the classroom. We stored the tools where it is dry. The classroom has two exits. We stored the tools where it is dry.

以下還有一些例子:

改寫前 改寫後
There are no upstream guarantees from the Company’s subsidiaries. The Company’s subsidiaries do not provide upstream guarantees.
This is an investment that has performed relatively well compared to others in the portfolio. This investment performed relatively well compared to others in the portfolio.
The Consulting segment drove revenue growth during the quarter, increasing 6.6% over the same period last year, as it continued to benefit from this business segment. The Consulting segment drove revenue growth during the quarter, increasing 6.6% over the same period last year, as the company continued to benefit from this business segment.

> Use standard English

老師在這裡提供了兩個例子:

第一點就是避免使用拉丁文或法文等等非英文的用字,例如 e.g., etc., via, in lieu of, en route,原因是其他國家的讀者有可能會看不明白。

第二點就是避免使用 “/” ,”/” 只是代表除法。有人會用 “/” 來代表 and 或 or,可是讀者在閱讀時並不能分別這代表 and 還是 or。所以最好使用以下的改寫方法:

改寫前 改寫後
teacher/student teacher and student
Subway/bus subway or bus
Salt and/or pepper salt or pepper or both

> Duplicate words / implied phrases

切記移除重複的用語令文章變得更簡潔。例如:

改寫前 改寫後
ACME’s singularly unique and patented personnel and technical package with completely and professional fulfill, as well as satisfy, all your complex and challenging requirements. Buy partnering together in conjunction with your professional staff and personnel, our teams can become interdependent upon each other, in other words, ACME can solve all your HR problems. ACME’s patented personnel fulfills your complex requirements, by partnering with your staff, ACME can solve all your HR problems.
At last, the market survey was completed in its entirely. The Market Committee reached a full consensus of opinion. They decided to stick to the basic essentials of franchising new retail stores. In concert with the Products Committee, they decided to exactly replicate store layout and merchandise. The market survey was complete. The Market committee reached a consensus. They decided to stock to the basics of franchising new stores. With the Products Committee, they decided to replicate stores.

> Cut unnecessary propositions

前置詞來說,可以不用的就就不用,因為英文有 72 個前置詞和他們的用法並不準確。

改寫前 改寫後
In order to meet the objectives of this test, XYZ Inc relies on the expertise of people belonging to and part of the staff in the La Jolla Laboratory. To meet the test objectives, XYZ Inc relies on the La Jolla Laboratory staff’s expertise.

> Remove who, which, that

切記盡是移除 who、which 和 that,因為很多時這些字都是對內容沒有任何幫助。例如:

改寫前 改寫後
The policy committee, which is composed of local elected officials from Clark Country, chose not to include a request for more road salt in their final budget that was submitted on September 10. The policy committee, composed of local elected officials from Clark Country, chose not to include a request for more road salt in their final budget submitted on September 10.

> Use modifiers wisely

Modifiers 指修飾語,是用來修飾一些片語的詞語。修飾語只能放在要修飾的片這後面。可是,老師指出我們經常把修飾語放錯了位置:

第一點是關於 only 這個字。我們只能把 only 放在要修飾的詞語的後面。例如:

改寫前 改寫後
I only have eyes for you I have eyes for you only.
You only need to turn in a time sheet on Fridays. You need to turn in a time sheet only on Fridays.

第二點是用 Introductory phrase 時要小心這些片語的位置。例如:

改寫前 改寫後
Soaring high above the clouds, we watched the space shuttle fly into space. We watched the shuttle soaring high above the clouds into space.
After adding bleach to the Petri dish, the bacteria died. We observed the bacteria died after adding bleach to the Petri dish.

第三點是關於如果有很多 modifiers 在同一句時要十分小心:

改寫前 改寫後
FDA approved XYZ Drug for the treatment of panic disorder on May 1, 2012. FDA approved XYZ Drug on May 1, 2012 for the treatment of panic disorder.

內心 OS: 讀者也可以參考有物報告編輯手冊來學習如何寫作,我也正在學習中。


Udemy Business and Technical Writing Immersion 系列:



分類: 學習筆記 上課心得
寫作日期: 2018-02-12

隨機文章: