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Smooth your reader’s journey

Reading someone else’s writing is a trip into the unknown: every sentence a potential for stumbling, every paragraph a risk of losing track. If your tutor or supervisor feeds back that they found it tricky to follow your argument or see how your main points fit together, it could be because you haven’t offered enough guidance.

Think of these three tips as aids to help your reader navigate smoothly through your document.

Image credit: Lena Helfinger, Pixabay

1 Signposts

If you’re about to present your reader with an important piece of information, warn them so they sit up and take notice:

‘The following case study proved crucial to how the research developed.’

2 Bridges

When taking your reader from one section to another, let them know what is happening with a bridging phrase:

‘This will allow us to observe which lizards’ tails have grown in length. The means of measuring them will be explained in the following section.’

3 Markers

It’s likely your writing will focus on a few key words or phrases. Repeating those words or phrases as markers throughout the assignment is useful. If you were writing an essay entitled ‘The evolution of sacred spaces in Tibetan culture’, you could repeat the phrase ‘sacred spaces’ in the introduction and conclusion. Such repetition builds a powerful sense of cohesion and helps your reader to follow your line of thought.

 

Chris Simms
17 December 2020

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