Clear Technical Writing
Engaging Action

Spot-On Verbs 1

Whether or not a sentence is engaging is a matter of opinion. But take it from an experienced business writer: it's real, it matters, and you can become good at it.

Imagine you wrote a detailed email and you have access to the inner thoughts and subconscious reactions of your reader. If your writing is engaging, here is what you might hear:

Missing from these thoughts is any mention of having to slow down or stop to figure something out. Comprehension was immediate and effortless. That's the goal.

It's like the difference between looking through a dirty, blurry window and looking through a clean, transparent window. One makes us squint; the other we don't even notice.

Reading speed and comprehension can both suffer when we use vague verb phrases.

The tolerances of the power supplies are the same as those from the batch we made yesterday. The precision of the voltmeter is within our testing requirements.

We understand what is being said, but it is easier to read and understand if we use a more precise verb.

The tolerances of the power supplies match those from the batch we made yesterday. The precision of the voltmeter satisfies our testing requirements.

In a prior Module, Clear Actions, we identified the Main Action hidden in plain sight within the sentence. Here, we are instead replacing the verb phrase with an outsider: a single word that succinctly and precisely states what we really meant to say. Readers love this. They don't know they love it, but that's okay. You know it, and that's what counts.

Consider several more examples.

We expected to prove that the new coating would increase by a factor of 2 the insulation value. But the power outage interfered with finishing our testing.

We expected to prove that the new coating would double the insulation value. But the power outage delayed our testing.

Edit your writing by underlining blurry verbs that can be replaced with precise verbs.

The diagrams contain information relative to the pumps we offer. Our new gaskets provide freedom from leakage at the valve. We will endeavor to determine how to keep the pumps running. Constant airflow improves heat transfer from the pump.
  

Lesson: Spot-On Verbs 1
Module: Engaging Action
Course: Clear Technical Writing