4-4-00 Version Should It Go In The Report? Is it a flourish or a rock? http://www.cs.ucla.edu/~klinger/editing.html

A common failing of authors is falling-in-love with a word or phrase. One way to put this is in terms of speaking. There the corresponding descriptive term is "a rhetorical flourish." However, often the things that charm in speech, seem pretentious in written text.

Here are a few questions to ask about a favored term to determine whether to include, or remove it.

Inclusion Criteria

Is the term necessary? Does it contribute to the main theme of the work? Would omission make it easier to understand the ideas presented?

Is the wording like a "pet rock," i.e., a useless fad)? If the answer is yes, get rid of it.

1. Apply the inclusion criteria to a sentence selected from the Bibliographic material, daily newspaper, above items, or your own work. Give your reply as a "before/after" pair showing the outcome from your editing.

Working Cross-Culturally

Some businesses' main activity is supporting people who deal with intercultural issues. For example, a company focussed on world trade is called "Getting Through Customs." In their own words,

"Getting Through Customs is a software, training and research firm for international business travelers. GTC produces the PASSPORT System, the leading online database of global business & social practices, cognitive styles & cultural overviews, religious & societal influences on business, medical & travel information, political data & contacts. Clients include AT&T, DuPont, and IBM. There are over sixty countries profiled in the PASSPORT database. A demo of the system, as well as information on our other products and services is available at http://www.getcustoms.com The PASSPORT System is now available in html format to transfer directly to corporate & educational Intranets, as well as on disk, and on CompuServe. ... "

Keeping to simple direct language instead of metaphor and pet phrases is likely to assist in making your work understandable by people from different cultures.

Understatement and Evidence - Make the Reader Draw an Inevitable Conclusion

2. Some cultures avoid confrontation: no becomes possibly. In others, it is better to not seek credit. What can you do in writing to let the conclusion become inevitable ... but not explicitly stated?

It is always appropriate to provide evidence: proofs, derivations, tables showing comparisons, experimental data. These things can make a conclusion inevitable ... and hence unnecessary to state in words.

Avoid Self-Praise ... Hope About What Will Be Done

3. Consider the following two sentences as editing candidates. Label any words you believe should be left out by one of these terms: self-praise, unsupported claim, wishful, hopeful, replace with ... (suggest other wording), repetitious, unnecessary, or non-descriptive (of the project).

a. "The great thing about this product that makes it stand above the rest is that it is entirely web based."

b. "Scheduling classes is often one of the more complicated and challenging tasks which students at UCLA are faced with at the beginning of each quarter."

Simple Straightforward Matter-of-Fact

4. Restate the ideas in a. or b. as one or more sentences that are simple, direct, and matter-of-fact in tone. You could try new versions that can be labeled by one of: project description; requirements (user needs); or specifications.

Where Should It Go In The Report?

There's usually room for an appendix after the main body of the text, the figures, and any reference or bibliographic pages. Still an appendix should be clearly organized and relatively self-contained. Often a report is enhanced by a table of contents: so is an appendix (by its own overview page).

Start Group Work On Your Own

5. Draft an outline or table of contents for your interim project report, as you see it as an individual. Include any figures or appendices you think necessary to make the material understandable without overreliance on the written word.

Build a Sample Bibliography

Bibliographies in publications other than a report need to have uniformity. Here, aside from a general style (author last name, first name, book title), some variation (incompleteness regarding city of publication or date) is acceptable because the document is a report. You may want to annotate your bibliography or separately group like items. (A course task was to develop writing ability by daily reading.)

6. Create a sample bibliography based on your accomplished and intended reading in the course this quarter.

This item consists of four books. The first two are interesting and very well-written. (Excerpts from UCLA's online library catalogs built this list.)


Allen, Frederick Lewis, Only Yesterday: An Informal History Of The Nineteen-Twenties, New York: Perennial Library, 1964; Harper, 1957.

Markham, Beryl, West With The Night, London: Virago, 1984, 1942.

Morrison, Terri and Conaway, Wayne A., Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in 60 Countries, Adams Media, 1-800-872-5627 or 617-767-8100.

Morrison, Terri and Conaway, Wayne A., Dun & Bradstreet's Guide to Doing Business Around the World, Prentice Hall, 1-800-947-7700, ISBN # 0-13-531484-4.