The Four Bs for Effective Technical and Scientific Writing



The Four Bs of Writing

Technical, scientific, and business writing can be the most efficient form of communication in any arena, if done effectively. Long, laborious sentences that offer no evident point can destroy your goals before you’ve even stated them! Presented here are four effective writing tips that any professional can use to improve and learn effective professional writing, affectionately called the “Four Bs.”

Be Active

Using active voice, which emphasizes the doer of the action (be it person or thing) throughout your writing is more apt to lead to a positive response from readers. Active voice produces more powerful sentences and usually requires fewer words. Readability studies tell us that readers are more likely to read shorter communication more thoroughly.

Be Brief

Behavioral scientists estimate that the average immediate attention span of an adult is eight seconds. If this is true, you have only eight seconds to capture a reader’s attention! Since time is of the essence, your information must be delivered concisely and precisely. Stating the goal of the communication in a subject line or within the first paragraph can go a long way toward helping your reader get through the information quickly and easily. Once the reader knows the point of your communication, you’ve won an additional eight seconds. To encourage a reader to completely read your document, deliver targeted information in short snippets, moving fluidly from paragraph to paragraph.

Be Clear

A professional setting is not the place for flowery, overly descriptive language. High-level words or technical jargon can make your audience think that you’re ''talking down'' to them. Technical speak is acceptable only when your readers are members of the same technical profession and will universally understand the abbreviations, references, and other technical jargon you may be using. 

Be Brutal

Many writers fail to do one essential thing: be brutal with their writing; that is, they refuse to cut superfluous words, cut sentences, and/or cut length, if that’s what’s required to produce the best document. Be brutal—read your document with a critical eye—you can be sure that your reader is!