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The University of Southampton
English for EngineersUnderstanding assessed tasks

Communicating Clearly

Engineers are encouraged to write simply for clear communication. You want the your audience to focus on your ideas, not the language you use.

Ways to reduce the strain

1) Write efficiently: avoid unnecessary words

Unnecessary words included Unnecessary words removed Reason
zinc metal zinc Zinc can only be a metal.
the barrels of oil barrels of oil Unnecessary use of 'of'
in order to to Shorter and means the same.

2) Write simply: avoid pompous language

Here the issue is not that the reader won’t understand the language, but rather that certain words (those that are more formal, flowery or pompous) slow the reader down.  For example, ‘initiate’ rather than ‘start’.

You want the message, rather than the language, to hold the reader’s attention. You want to write in a clear, professional way without being overly formal or showy.

Further Reading

Beer, D, McMurrey, D, 1997, Writing as an Engineer.  New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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