Posted by: episystechpubs | September 17, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Parallelism Revisited

It’s the time of year we work on a lot of slide shows for the Symitar Educational Conference, which means a lot of editing slides for parallel structure. We’ve talked about this before, but I think that it is one of the hardest things for people to understand and, therefore, it is difficult to change. I just received a good set of examples from Grammarbook.com, which hopefully will help you understand the importance of it a bit more. I’ve pared it down a bit, but most of the examples are still here. (I’ve kept the formatting as it was, though we don’t generally use underlines in our documentation.)

Parallelism is the use of consistent grammatical structures in a series of two or more items to assist ease of reading and understanding. We touched briefly on this topic in Parallel Construction and Effective Writing. We’ll revisit it here with additional detail.

Nouns
Not Parallel: The band needs a singer [noun], a guitar player [noun], and to get booked for gigs [infinitive phrase].
Parallel: The band needs a singer, a guitar player, and a booking agent. [all nouns]

Verbs
Not Parallel: The storm flipped [simple past] the patio table and was taking off [past progressive] with the chairs.
Parallel: The storm flipped the patio table and took off with the chairs. [both simple past]

Adjectives
Not Parallel: The crowd was eager [adj.], alert [adj.], and jumping up and down [verb].
Parallel: The crowd was eager, alert, and excitable. [all adjectives]

Adverbs
Not Parallel: Calmly [adv.] and with steady strokes [prep. phrase], she swam the English Channel.
Parallel: Calmly and steadily, she swam the English Channel. [both adverbs]

Articles
Not Parallel: At the pet store, Lila wants to see the dogs, cats, ferrets, and the guinea pigs. [article only before the nouns
dogs and guinea pigs]
Parallel: At the pet store, Lila wants to see the dogs, the cats, the ferrets, and the guinea pigs. [The article the
precedes each noun.]
OR
Parallel: At the pet store, Lila wants to see the dogs, cats, ferrets, and guinea pigs. [A single starting article
the identifies all of the following nouns.]

Prepositional Phrases
Not Parallel: The park district will build the trail between the forests [prep. phrase] and to wind with the stream [infinitive phrase].
Parallel: The park district will build the trail between the forests and along the stream. [both prep. phrases]

Our prepositional phrases also should be parallel with their standard phrasing:

Not Parallel: Her statements represent her satisfaction and belief in the jury’s verdict.
Parallel: Her statements represent her satisfaction with and belief in the jury’s verdict.

Applying parallelism in our writing contributes to clearer, smoother communication between us and our readers—and keeps them parallel with us to the end of each thought.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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