Language in Writing


Word choice matters. You hear it repeated because it’s true: industry jargon, overly complex words, and wordiness alienate your audience and may make the readers lose interest, or worse yet, lose focus on the premise of your document. Word choice is crucial for any style of writing, but especially when you want readers to take a particular action.

Language clarity is discussed in the series, “ Secrets of good science writing ,” launched in The Guardian last month. These articles are leading up to the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2012. For it, editors asked 14 writers to submit articles about their favorite pieces of science writing. Everything from whiskey fungus to artificial intelligence to the cosmos is covered.

While the topics of the chosen science writings vary widely, the appreciation for clear, concise language is broadly acknowledged. Here are just a few examples of concise language in writing.

  • Tess Shellard , last year’s winner of the prize, describes why Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science is so appealing to her: “So why do I love this piece? Well, it has maths, science, humour, some geeky glee, a beautiful simile, a clear well-flowing structure and — crucially — some expertly sparse explanations.”
  • In his comments about Norman Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon that recounts the Apollo 11 moon landings, Tim Radford writes, “All writing benefits from economy and restraint.”
  • Neuroscience is an intricate subject, and David Eagleman covers aspects of it in tandem with societal issues in a 2011 piece in The Atlantic. Chosen as her favorite science writing, Penny Sarchet justifies her choice: “These are some meaty and complicated issues but Eagleman tackles all of them with the straightforward clarity that is essential for good science writing.”

These writers reiterate the necessity of succinct, concise language when explaining complex ideas in writing. Hurley Write, Inc. can help you develop ways to ensure your documents efficiently relay your ideas without jargon and overly complex terms. Contact us.