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5b. Blow up nominalizations and noun trains.

  • If you spot a noun that has been derived from a verb, rewrite the sentence to bring that verb to the surface.

Our utilization of pickaxes meant an expansion of the trench.

Using pickaxes, we expanded the trench.

Accomplishment of evaluation of grabbability capacity must be achieved by our group, for each tire.

We must evaluate how well each tire can grab the road.

  • If you spot a noun that has been derived from an adjective, rewrite to delete the noun, or restore the adjective form.

Reductive sizing guarantees minimal weight-related scores.

Smaller sizes mean less weight.

Quickness in doors reduces congested foyers, at crowded exits.

When a door opens quickly, people do not crowd the foyer, waiting to get out.

  • Disassemble strings of nouns by rewriting. Feel free to create a new sentence, to express the meaning that was buried in that noun train.

Quality control standards publication processes must experience improvement.

We need to improve the way we publish the standards for quality control.

Industry academy interchange nurturance deserves a supporting attitude.

We must support exchanges between industry and academia.

Other ways to make your text easier to understand:

5a. Reduce the number of clauses per sentence.

5c. Watch out for ambiguous phrases a user might have to debate.

5d. Surface the agent and action, so users don't have to guess.

5e. Make a positive statement.

5f. Reduce scrolling.

5g. Let users print or save the entire document at once.

Resources on thoughtlessness

Taking a Position on Thoughtlessness

Heuristic Online Text (H. O. T.) Evaluation of Cognitive Burdens











There is a technical term for a noun derived from a verb or an adjective. It is called a nominalization. —Williams (1990)

Creating a string of nouns is a clumsy way of avoiding two or three phrases or clauses. It’s confusing because readers lose track of the point and wonder when it will ever end. It’s ambiguous because people can read several nouns as an adjective phrase and get one picture of the subject, then, looking again, see several other nouns as a descriptive phrase, and end up with yet another view.
Price & Korman (1993)

They’re often another form of jargon, a shorthanding of longer concepts. But clarity demands that the editor unpack the noun string. —Bush and Campbell (1995)

See bibliography: Bush and Campbell (1995), Horton (1990), Price & Korman (1993), Tarutz (1992), Waite (1982), Williams (1990).


Audience Fit
If visitors want... How well does this guideline apply?
To have fun Keeping it simple, stupid, or KISS, was developed as a guideline for business correspondence, not entertaining prose.  You can play around with this rule, if you know you're amusing.
To learn One idea at a time works best.  Disembed, move, or remove.
To act One meaningful action per instruction.  No more.  No extra explanations, either.  Just the action.
To be aware If you have something profound to say, it will come out simply.  On the other hand, if you are selling a cult, use more clauses, because they act like incense smoke, to blind and ensnare.
To get close to people Would you use complicated syntax when talking to a friend?  Probably not, unless you were pontificating--or lying.

Ready for some challenges?

Don't make me think.


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