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28 CHAPTER 3 IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS AND USING GRAPHICS OVERVIEW Have a worker or supervisor follow your instructions. Note where he or she is confused or where information Writing well and inserting photographs can be difficult, espe- is missing or incorrect. Rewrite the text. cially for maintenance personnel who are not especially trained for it. This chapter provides some basic instructions to help you To be clear: improve those skills. Chapter 6 includes sample practices that were developed by applying the information provided here. Write the way you talk. You can always go back and clean up the grammar later. WRITING EFFECTIVELY Use common but exact words. Use bullets or numbers to list the steps in a process, Poorly written text with grammatical and spelling errors replacement parts, etc. can easily confuse readers, causing them to make mistakes, work slowly, or re-do the work as they try to make sense of To be concise: the instructions. Below are some simple suggestions to help you write more effectively and improve the material synthe- Write in short sentences and paragraphs. sized from other sources. Omit any unnecessary words. The Five "Cs" for Good Writing To be correct: When writing practices, you should strive to be: Have clerical staff or other knowledgeable persons proofread your writing for spelling and grammatical Consistent: follow a pattern and always use the same errors. Make the corrections. word for the same topic. Keep a pocket dictionary handy and use it. Complete: include all the information that readers need. Use the thesaurus feature in word processing soft- Clear: write so that readers can understand you; use ware to help you find the right word. In MS Word, common words and write the way you talk. from the "Tools" menu, select "Language" then Concise: be brief; write short sentences and omit any "Thesaurus." unnecessary words. Use the spelling and grammar check feature in MS Correct: provide up-to-date, correct information; use Word. From the "Tools" menu, select "Spelling and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Grammar." (Note: While the spelling and grammar check is useful, it is not perfect. It may not catch words To be consistent: that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly. For example, "their is no weigh spell Czech wood cache Write instructions as commands, using verbs: Turn . . . these errs!") Unscrew. . . Tighten . . . Lubricate. . . A consistent pat- tern of commands is easy for readers to follow. Figure 3-1 provides an example of how to be consistent, Always use the same term for specific pieces of equip- complete, clear, concise, and correct when writing. ment or processes. To be complete: Tips for Improving Existing Text After writing the instructions, follow them yourself and note where information is missing or incorrect. Rewrite If you use text from another source, do not assume that it the text as needed. is well written. Evaluate the text against the five "Cs" for