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Professor Heidemans Guide to Style

Writing is always a form of communication. The style of the writing follows from the goal of the communication. Writing driving directions, irtatious text messages, or a cover letter all necessitate vastly dierent styles because of the dierent goals of the communication. For this class, the goal of your writing is to convince your professor that you both understand the course material and have something interesting to say about it. These points are meant to aid you in that eort. While only a small portion of what you write during your lifetime will be written with this goal in mind, the advice below will be valid for any situation in which a formal writing style will help you accomplish the goal of your communication. Good writing foregrounds the voice and ideas of its author. Phrases like it is known that or it has been said hide both of these (Who knows? Who says? Who cares?). Similarly, avoid using quotations to make your points for you. Quotations should aid in the illustration of a point you are making. By putting your voice and ideas at the center of your writing, you not only make it clearer and more pleasurable to read - you also make it more condent and convincing. Eliminate words like very and really from your written vocabulary. Rather than describing something as very important, describe it as crucial instead. The latter is concise and precise; the former only leaves your reader wondering why, if it is so important, you could not describe it better. Adverbs in general (most words ending with ly) should always be treated with suspicion, and asked what their business is in your sentences. Be as specic as possible. If you want to convince your reader that a certain author had good ideas, dont simply say She had good ideas (and especially dont say She had very good ideas !). Describe her ideas, and explain why they are compelling, fascinating, ahead of their time, etc. Paragraphs with a variety of sentence structures are far more pleasing to read than those with repetitive structures. Multiple short sentences in a row are choppy. They make the writing sound disconnected. They break up your readers attention. This distracts from your ideas. (See what I mean?) Although written and spoken language dier greatly, reading your sentences out loud is the easiest test of their clarity and grammaticality. If it sounds strange when you say it, it will assuredly sound strange to your reader as well. Papers that have received this treatment are easily distinguishable from those that have not in a variety of ways - most relevantly, by the higher grades they tend to receive. Always strive to make everything you write both interesting and beautiful.