Posted by: episystechpubs | April 4, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Time to Convert Your Nouns

I was reading through a list of techniques for more precise writing the other day, and I came across a technique I don’t think we’ve discussed. Mark Nichol created the list for Daily Writing Tips, and he said that “to produce more vivid, direct, concise prose,” we should convert nouns to verbs.

On my recent trip to England, I converted all my dollars to pounds and then I spent them. While I was there, I also learned the formula to convert the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit to figure out how cold I was. So I like to think I’m pretty good at converting things, but I wasn’t at all sure what Mr. Nichol was talking about when he said to convert nouns to verbs. It turns out he wants us to convert nouns that end in –tion to verbs (specifically infinitive verbs, which are the verbs that begin with to). Here is his example:

Before: They will collaborate in the creation of new guidelines.
After: They will collaborate to create new guidelines.

Changing the phrase “in the creation of” to “to create” uses fewer words and it’s clearer. It’s a win-win!

So look for those –tion words in your writing, and when you can, convert them to verbs. Everything we can do to make life easier for our readers is worth the effort.

And by the way, the formula to convert the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit is: °C x 1.8 + 32 = °F (for example, 5° C x 1.8 + 32 = 41° F).

I survived.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

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