Accuracy in Professional writing

The challenge in professional writing is explaining complex technical concepts in an easy understandable manner, with accuracy. How can accuracy be maintained while avoiding jargon, equations and formulae? Writing to popularize a scientific or technical matter is thus always a struggle for any writer as there is a looming trepidation of trivializing the findings or providing false hypothesis or vague allusions. There is also a danger of writing as a technical expert which a layman cannot understand discouraging him or her from reading the whole paper.

There are no simple answers to the question. Three factors must be considered while writing a technical or scientific paper or article. First factor is space constraint; the space for any journalistic writing is limited and it’s impossible to cover all aspects in the writing. It is, therefore, important to decide what to take, which angle to focus on and what to reject. The second is the audience. The general public or people from different fields are also interested in the information but might not be aware of the technical details. Thirdly, the market and social context should be kept in mind. The work of a professional writer is to connect science and technology to its social significance.

While writing on a scientific or technical matter one should be carefully select information to be used, use visualisation and explanation of concepts in terms of images and stories. Avoid exaggeration, generalization or sensationalization of the subject.

The term accuracy not only means checking that the text is factually and grammatically correct, but also that the text confirms to all the style guidelines.

Four steps should be kept in mind while ensuring that accuracy is maintained in professional writing:

  • Double check the facts

The most important point to remember is that what ever you write must be in grammatically correct prose without going wrong on facts. While proofreading one should double-check all statistics, numbers, dates, names with their spellings from a reliable source.

  • Don’t use spell-check, blindly

Spell-check indicates and even automatically corrects spelling mistakes and typos, but one has to be very cautious while running a spell-check as it keeps giving you alternatives, which might not be correct, in the present context.

The names of people, places, and organizations are should be checked manually. Number, dates, sections, and page numbers also should be looked over carefully followed by punctuation and grammar.

  • Maintain a consistent style throughout

It is preferable to follow a particular style guide as a reference to ensure style consistency in every document. The key to using a style guide effectively is simply choosing one and stick to it this gives consistency and professional touch.

  • Get an objective opinion

Get someone else who is well read and has proper knowledge grammar read the writing to give an objective feedback on the writing. The objective reader need not be from the field you are writing about; rather it is preferable that he or she belongs to a different subject.

Keep a sharp eye on factual errors, style inconsistencies, misspellings, or grammatical mistakes while writing any piece of communication.


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