Influence people

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tip #5 for the Business Writer

Keep Your Phrases Parallel
Part 5 of a 5-part series on writing well.



Parallelism adds clarity to your writing readers appreciate.


In a parallelism, you keep the structure of any series of related phrases consistent, repeating the same word forms (your nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) in the same order.


Parallelism can occur within a sentence or within a paragraph.

Here's an example (from Florida Coconuts) of a faulty parallelism within a sentence:

Coconut water is fat free, delicious, and a great way to rehydrate after strenuous physical activity.

To make her structure parallel, the writer should say:

Coconut water is fat free, delicious and refreshing. It provides a great way to rehydrate after strenuous physical activity.

Here's an example (from Sony) of a faulty parallelism within a paragraph:


The installation of 600 Sony SNC-DH140T cameras was decided upon for three main reasons. The first was Sony’s outstanding image quality, both at day and night, in any season, and under any light conditions. The second related to backlighting: cameras in an airport terminal have to offer good image quality of the traffic inside as well as the people outside. The third criterion focused on the necessary integration with ADP’s existing Genetec software. Sony delivered seamless compatibility here: as soon as a Sony camera is installed on the ADP network, the Genetec software can add it automatically, without human intervention.

To make his structure parallel, the writer should say:


The installation of 600 Sony SNC-DH140T cameras was decided upon for three main reasons. The first was Sony’s outstanding image quality: images are clear both at day and night, in any season, and under any light conditions. The second was Sony's exceptional backlighting capability: cameras in an airport terminal have to offer good image quality of the traffic inside as well as outside. The third was Sony's seamless compatibility with ADP’s Genetec software: as soon as a Sony camera is installed on the ADP network, the Genetec software can add it automatically, without human intervention.

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