Monday, March 07, 2016

Writing in Plain Language, Part 8: Parallel Structure

Writing in plain language requires not only clarity and conciseness, but consistency too. Parallel structure, the expression of like ideas in grammatically and conceptually consistent terms, is a key for keeping words, phrases, clauses, and lists accurate, clear, and concise. The examples below show how using parallel structure improves messages.

Word

Nonparallel: Amy studies, plays, and likes socializing.
Parallel Amy studies, plays, and socializes.

Phrase

NonparallelBjartur analyzed the data, was writing the report, and presented the results.
ParallelBjartur analyzed the data, wrote the report, and presented the results.

Clause

Nonparallel: Carol is designing the project, and it is being managed by Delano.
Parallel: Carol designs the project, and Delano manages it.

List
Nonparallel: The inspection team identified the following performance deficiencies:

  • Insufficient security staff
  • The quality of the materials is poor
  • Production staff need to be trained
  • Are the deadlines being met?


Parallel: The inspection team identified the following performance deficiencies:

  • insufficient security staff
  • poor material quality
  • ineffective production staff
  • missed deadlines