Friday 19 November 2010

Business Writing: How to write like a pro? -- Part 2

First, let me thank those of you who did try. Well done. Like I always said, you will learn more if you do it. If you just read, that's okay, but you'll never learn as much. I hope I will see more readers of this blog trying.

Let's check our homework first. The question from last week was,

Poor show by MTRC
I think MTR Corp did not handle the situation well. It did not give enough information to commuters. There was a chaotic situation because passengers could not find their way easily to other transport modes. Perhaps the MTRC should send more staff and call the police for help in future situations.

Content words: 28
Total words: 51
Lexical density = 54.9%

And my version is as follows,

Poor show by MTRC
MTR Corp’s failure to inform commuters of the routes of transit to other means of transport caused chaos thus more assistance from staff and police is necessary

Content words: 17

Total words: 27
Lexical density = 63.0%
Words saved compared with previous version = 28 - 17 = 11 = 39.3%

Now, there are many ways you can rewrite that, so I am just suggesting one of them. If you look at my sentence and do the statistic, you will see that even though my version is not much more packed than the original version, the number of words I used is much fewer (only 27 words in total), so I can say that my version may be more difficult for beginner readers, but it is definitely more professional when you read it. 

And I have saved 11 words (39.3% ). If in one sentence I can save this much, imagine I am going to write an essay of 2500 words? How many words can I save? Or how much more information can I put inside with the same number of words?

How to write lexically dense sentences:
This is the easiest version I am teaching.

First, you need to know what is subject, verb and object, and write a simple sentence such as

  • MTR caused chaos.
Then you add pre-modifiers and post-modifiers

From Wikipedia, "premodifier is a modifier placed before the head (the modified component). A postmodifier is a modifier placed after the head".

Pre-modification : The mishandling by the MTR
Post-modification : MTR's poor handling of the situation

From here, you can expand 

"MTR Corp caused chaos, assistance is necessary" 

into something that looks like my sentence below, with keywords in bold.

  • (MTR Corp’s failure to inform commuters of the routes of transit to other means of transport) caused chaos thus (more assistance from staff and police) is necessary
After a sequence of pre-modification and post-modification, you can arrive at a very long sentence with lots of information in it.

Homework Time:
Try making this sound more professional, and also, have fun watching the videos.

Dr. Samuel Johnson was born in Great Britain. He was born on 18th September 1709. He was an author and he is most famous for his work Dictionary of the English Language. The dictionary was published in 1755. The dictionary took him 9 years to finish writing.

Black Adder the Third is a English TV series. In the episode Ink and Incapability (1987), Dr. Samuel Johnson has only one copy of his dictionary. Blackadder's servant Baldrick burnt it and Blackadder has only one weekend to rewrite it. (Image from
Blackadder the Third -- Ink and Incapability script

Previous Entry --Business Writing: How to write like a pro? -- Part 1

Premodifier and Postmodifier  @ Wikipedia

Blackadder the Third @ IMDb

Blackadder the Third -- Ink and Incapability script

Blackadder the Third -- Ink and Incapability @ YouTube