Posted by: Jack Henry | June 26, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Parallelism

With all of the PowerPoint® presentations coming our way for the Symitar Education Conference, I’ve been asked to refresh peoples’ memories about parallel and non-parallel writing structure.

Parallelism refers to using similar grammatical constructions to balance your bullet points and the phrases in your sentences. Using parallel structure in your writing helps increase clarity and readability.

Parallelism in Bulleted Lists

If one bullet point in the list starts with a verb (an action word) or an article (a, an, the), you should try to start them all similarly. Bulleted lists should be composed of all complete sentences (with punctuation), or they should all be sentence fragments (without punctuation). The important thing is to be consistent and clear.

Non-parallel list Parallel list
· Detailed table of contents

· All sections are numbered for easy reference

· Completely indexed

· Includes samples of reports and displays

· Prompts are shown as they display on the screen

· Detailed table of contents

· Numbered sections for easy reference

· Compete index

· Sample reports and displays

· Accurate display of screen prompts

There is an additional rule in JHA Style Guide for Technical Communication and Training, which states that each bullet that completes the introductory sentence should end with a period as shown in the following example:

Before you submit a document for editing, you should

· Read it carefully and look for mistakes.

· Ask someone to peer review your document.

· Run spell check.

We do not strictly enforce the previous rule for PowerPoint presentations. We do require consistency, however.

Parallelism in a Sentence

When writing a sentence that includes a series of related phrases, you should make sure to structure the phrases similarly.

· Non-parallel phrasing

To use NTMC home banking, a member must connect to the internet, go to your credit union’s home page, and should select a link to NTMC home banking from your website.

Notice that in the example above, the writer switches from third person (a member) to second person (you). The writer has also written the three tasks so that they are not parallel (a member must connect to…, go to your…, and should select…)

· Parallel phrasing

To use NTMC home banking, a member must connect to the internet, go to the credit union’s home page, and select a link to NTMC home banking from your website.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

Symitar Documentation Services

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