Advanced Business Writing
Clarity and Flow

Stuff-to-Back

When we need to write about complex or technical things, we need to pay close attention to where we place the technical words in each sentence. It really does matter for most readers. Consider the following:

To treat hypothyroidism, we are introducing a new medication. Levothyroxine sodium, the active ingredient, helps restore thyroid hormone balance. It's man-made but identical to thyroxine, the hormone that's naturally made by the thyroid gland.

Those sentences use correct grammar and can be understood. But they could be understood with less mental effort if we heed the following advice:

Try to place near the ends of your sentences any technical terms that you have not introduced before.

Applying this to those technical sentences again, we get:

We are introducing a new medication to treat hypothyroidism. It helps restore thyroid hormone balance with an active ingredient called levothyroxine sodium. This is a man-made hormone that's identical to the hormone naturally made by the thyroid, thyroxine.

That is easier to read.

There is another thing we can do at the end of our sentences to make them easier to read. It has to do with how we actually read:

To find out how WELL it works, we have to BUY it.

To BUY it, they have to approve the inVESTment.

Those capital letters show how we naturally read, out loud or verbally in our mind. We stress those syllables with an increase in pitch or volume.

If we place rhetorically significant information at the end of the sentence, we help emphasize it because it coincides with the reading stress that naturally occurs there.

Note: We should not do this with every sentence, but we should do it where we can and when it flows with the surrounding sentences. (more on flow in later lessons)

When editing, two obvious methods can be used to accomplish this:

(1) Move stuff you want to emphasize to the end of the sentence.

That people would learn to live without paper money once seemed imPOSsible.

It once seemed impossible that people would learn to live without paper MONey.

(2) Move stuff you do not want to emphasize away from the end of the sentence.

Your calculations support their recommendation to change retail channels, in MOST instances.

In most instances, your calculations support their recommendation to change retail CHANnels.

Also, this can help you to do a better job of including a side comment (metadiscourse) when you feel it is necessary to do so:

Last year's increase in revenues helped raise our stock price, it should be reMEMbered.

It should be remembered that last year's increase in revenues helped raise our STOCK price.

Lesson: Stuff-to-Back
Module: Clarity and Flow
Course: Advanced Business Writing