Re: Brochure revisions

Subject: Re: Brochure revisions
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1993 08:43:09 -0500

Lisa Buckleton tells about a long sentence:

> Reading a post on a rewrite of a university brochure put me
> in mind of a segment on an Australian TV show (The Investigators)
> which was shown this week. The presenter took a copy of a
> loan guarantor document to the sidewalks and asked some of the
> passing parade whether they would read the first sentence and
> then explain what it said. This sentence was about 1,700 words long!!

You know, it's difficult to come up with a 1,700 word sentence by
acciedent. The loan guarantor obviously intended to obscure the meaning
put forward in that first sentence. A lot of times you see deliberately
bad writing when the intent is to obstruct, rather than to promote,

One of the exercises in the writing program I took was to examine the
writing in a safety warning issued by a car manufacturer for a defect
that could cause the hood of your car to fly up while you were driving.
The manufacturer wrote the entire thing in the passive voice (avoiding
naming any responsible parties), used excessively technical language
(jargon) for parts with common names, and implied (but didn't explicitly
say) that the driver would be at fault if an accident occurred as a
result of the defect.

> Only one person actually read the whole sentence out (it took
> about 6 minutes). Naturally, the meaning was somewhat obscured.

> I don't know if even a rewrite would help this one!

If the original writers did the rewrite, it would be time to call the
people at Guinness, I suspect.

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer | "Eat well, stay fit, die anyway." |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| - Bumper sticker |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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