Write active sentences. Avoid the passive voice.
- This comment emphasizes writing clear, concise, descriptive
For a nice checklist to improve writing, consider the Paramedic Method, by UCLA Professor Richard Lanham. As a nice last step to this method, read your writing out loud to catch spelling, grammar, and logic errors.
Avoid employing the passive
voice in your writing. Instead, use the active voice. For examples, read http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/concise.html, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/635/1/, https://brians.wsu.edu/common-errors/, or do a web search.
You can employ the active voice in the present tense:
The data in figure 1 illustrate how circuit 2 has higher noise margins than
Alternately, you can employ the active voice in the past tense:
Yesterday's measurements demonstrated that circuit 4 switches at a higher
frequency than circuit 3.
If you employ the passive voice in any sentence in a lab report you turn
in, please accompany it with a footnote explaining why you did so intentionally.
Otherwise, I will assume that you did not consider whether or not to employ
the active voice.
In order to avoid the passive voice, employ a variety of verbs. Using forms of the verb "to be" often leads to passive voice sentences. Many other verbs exist. Use them to improve clarity and to convey more informative thoughts.One easy fix for the excessive
passive voice is to look for instances of "is VERBed" and eliminate the "is" For example, "is changed" becomes "changes"; "is increased" becomes "increases"; "is observed" becomes "occurs"; "were observed" becomes "occur"; "was lowered" becomes "drops" or "decreases"; etc.
Also, other fixes involve eliminating "is observed, was observed, and
were observed" for example, "is observed to increase" becomes
For a MS Word Macro designed to assist applying the Paramedic Method, please see Braun's Paramedic Method Video page.
Consider this quote from Jack Kilby's Nobel Prize lecture in 2000:
“T.R Reid has pointed out that building a circuit is like building a sentence. There are certain standard components—nouns, verbs and adjectives in a sentence, and resistors, capacitors, transistors and diodes in a circuit. Each has its own function. By connecting the components in different ways, you can get sentences, or circuits, that perform in different ways.” http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/2000/kilby-lecture.pdf, p. 3