Exercise Proofread for Perfection

In the last chapter you learned to be vigilant in proofing your work so that your documents are correct before they leave your office. Now review your draft and Brad's, correcting any errors you find.

Did you find many errors? Brad did. He said, "I found all sorts of errors. I had subject/verb agreement, word usage, and grammar issues." Here are the errors Brad identified and his comments.

1. All data is verified by fact checkers.

"I revised the verb to maintain the past tense," Brad explained.

All data was verified by fact checkers.

Note that "data," from the Latin datum, can be treated as either singular or plural. However, in the usage above, as in most scientific and research usage, the word data is used as a collective noun referring to a body of work, and as such is properly treated as singular.

2. Here are answers to three key questions.

Brad said, "I should have caught this earlier, but I didn't. This sentence should be a separate paragraph."

3. I collected over five hundred separate facts from various data sources.

"I decided to remove the reference to myself from the sentence," Brad said. "The sentence became passive in construction, but I decided that it was more important to highlight the impressive number of facts rather than the fact that it was I who collected them."

Over five hundred separate facts from various data sources were collected.

4. Georgia is a better choice because of my overall analysis; specifically, the very low exposure in areas including weather, transport and available labor make it more attractive.

"It occurred to me that this sentence was unclear. I decided to simplify it. I also decided that I needed to rework it in order to clarify what kinds of exposure I was talking about. I replaced the words very and areas because they're weak. I corrected the punctuation by adding a comma before the word and, and changed transport to transportation. I ended up reworking the entire sentence. The amazing part to me was that I didn't catch these errors until I focused on the grammar, punctuation, and word usage."

Georgia is the best choice because of the low risk of business interruptions resulting from weather, transportation, and labor.

5. Also, it offers the most positive labor climate of the three alternatives.

"I decided that this sentence was redundant, and so I deleted it. I was surprised that I hadn't recognized the redundancy when I was focused on conciseness and clarity, but I hadn't. Rereading helped me spot it."

6. Diversification allows us to reduce our vulnerability to potential weather, labor unrest, zoning, and taxation issues in Florida.

"It occurred to me that I was missing some words in this sentence, and that without them my meaning was unclear. Also, in this series, the word or should be used, not and."

Diversification allows us to reduce our vulnerability to the potential of weather, labor unrest, zoning, or taxation issues occurring in Florida.

7. If these events occur in Florida, and we have more than one factory there, it is easy to no doubt see the problem. Both factories are effected, not just one factory.

"There's a split infinitive here, a wrong word, and the sentence construction is awkward. I rewrote the sentence."

If any of these events occur in Florida, and we have two factories there, both of them would be affected, and thus our potential exposure would be doubled.

8. It's easy to understand why some of us lean toward selecting Florida but we should use objective, not subjective, criteria to make the decision.

"In looking to correct the punctuation error, I decided to simplify this sentence."

We should use objective, not subjective, criteria to make our decision.

Note that if you wanted to correct the punctuation error of the original sentence, it would read: "It's easy to understand why some of us lean toward selecting Florida, but we should use objective, not subjective, criteria to make the decision."

What do you think? Did Brad catch all the errors? What do you think of his fixes? Remember, there's always more than one way to write something well.

Here's how his latest version reads:

Bottom line: Of the three site options, the best choice is Georgia. My analysis used proprietary stochastic simulation techniques (see attached). Incorporating data collected from over one hundred sources, from the government and other public sources to interviews, the design of the model required creativity and diligence. All data was verified by fact checkers.

Here are answers to three key questions.

Q: What data did you collect?

A: Over five hundred separate facts from various data sources were collected.

Q: Why is Georgia a better choice than Florida or Illinois? A: Georgia is the best choice because of the low risk of business interruptions resulting from weather, transportation, and labor.

Q: What's the most compelling benefit of choosing Georgia? A: Diversification. Diversification allows us to reduce our vulnerability to the potential of weather, labor unrest, zoning, or taxation issues occurring in Florida. If any of these events occur in Florida, and we have two factories there, both of them would be affected, and thus our potential exposure would be doubled. We should use objective, not subjective, criteria to make our decision. If we do that, we must conclude that the site with the highest profit potential at the lowest risk is Georgia.

Brad was pleased with his revision. "It ended up being a lot more concise than the previous version. There are now 196 words and fifteen sentences, so my average sentence length is just over thirteen words. My Empathy Index was good, too. I had only two references to myself, but there were eight references to the corporation or the committee members; that's a score of positive six."

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