Clear Technical Writing
Simple Action

Check, Show, and Send

Simple verbs make writing clear.

Check that they ordered the right part.

Complex verbs risk the opposite.

Ascertain that they ordered the right part.

The verb ascertain is a complex version of the simple verb check. It can emphasize finding facts more than verifying them, and it can suggest ignorance proceeding to certainty.

When you do want to say something more complex, it is appropriate to use the more complex verb.

It took several attempts to ascertain that the part ordered was the part received, and that it was the right size.

The same ideas apply to other synonyms for the simple verb check.

Please check whether we fulfilled that order.

Please determine whether we fulfilled that order.

The verb determine can emphasize focused intention, and it can suggest precision.

We looked long and hard but were unable to determine the origin of that order.

Consider another simple verb, show.

A complex synonym is illustrate.

This table shows the test data.

This table illustrates the test data.

The verb illustrate can emphasize visual features, and it can suggest explaining more than presenting.

She illustrates her point using the flow diagrams below.

Another complex synonym is demonstrate.

His latest report shows the suitability of Linux servers.

His latest report demonstrates the suitability of Linux servers.

The verb demonstrate can emphasize physical action, and it can suggest practicality and proof.

As we watched, he demonstrated how well the Linux servers responded to varying loads.

Consider another simple verb, send.

A complex synonym is supply.

This module sends a signal to the switch.

This module supplies a signal to the switch.

The verb supply can emphasize becoming available, and it can suggest satisfying a need.

She supplied the parts necessary to build the module.

Another complex synonym is disseminate.

The email alert was sent to all supervisors.

The email alert was disseminated to all supervisors.

The verb disseminate can emphasize spreading widely, and it can suggest broadcasting more than delivering.

Supervisors could improve productivity by disseminating their view of best practices.

Edit your writing by underlining verbs that may be unnecessarily complex.

Ascertain if they have expertise in operations research. We can illustrate the optimization technique that uses linear programming. Retailers supply POS data so we can minimize queuing times. Ask purchasing to determine if we have the correct EOQ. Our network analysis graph demonstrates the relevant nodes and edges. Choose the best cost function then disseminate the FCFS sequencing parameters.

Lesson: Check, Show, and Send
Module: Simple Action
Course: Clear Technical Writing