A useful description

A useful description

A useful description is one that allows readers to learn about the object being described.  Unfortunately, this can be different from the description that comes naturally to the writer.

 

For instance, take the concept of "Tupple benchmarking."  Here are two descriptions of it.  Which one is easier for you to learn from?

 

 

 

 

Description 1

Tupple benchmarking is the process of taking the rotor pressure and matching it to established Tupple rotor pressures in order to identify the difference for each rotor.

 

 

 

Description 2

Tupple benchmarking is the process of comparing the pressure of any rotor to the Tupple standard.  
 
 
 

Description 1 is the one that comes naturally to the writer because it is how she conducts Tupple benchmarking every day.  She takes a reading of the rotor pressure, looks up a chart with established rotor pressures, and then calculates the difference. 

However readers, who are encountering the concept for the first time, find description 2 to be more useful.  The word "comparing" helps them instantly get an idea of the process; later, the steps of the comparison can be explained in more detail.

To write up a useful description it is therefore necessary for the writer, who has come to relate to the object being described in a particular way over time, to step away from that relationship and start afresh.  For instance, you can ask yourself what word or phrase will help readers instantly picture the object being described. 

To check that you are offering a useful description, pick a reader, preferably someone who knows less about the thing you are describing than you do.  If they can read over your description just once at their normal reading speed and describe the object back to you correctly, your description is a useful one.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text by Varanya Chaubey
Image from a book by James Needham  Author: James Needham (create creator page) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

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