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#TuesdayTutorial: Using Lists to Organize Information

#TuesdayTutorial: Using Lists to Organize Information published on 10 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: Using Lists to Organize Information

Today’s #TuesdayTutorial focuses on how organizing information in your professional writing by using lists. Bullet lists and numbered lists make related information easy to read through, and because they are offset from the margins, lists stand out and catch the reader’s eye. Consider this example of a text written in a paragraph:

How To Fill Out Form I-765

Type or print legibly in black ink. If extra space is needed to complete any item, attach a continuation sheet, write your name and Alien Registration Number (A-Number) (if any), at the top of each sheet of paper, indicate the Part and item number to which your answer refers, and date and sign each sheet. Answer all questions fully and accurately. State that an item is not applicable with “N/A.” If the answer is none, write “None.”

—From Instructions for Application for Employment Authorization,
Department of Homeland Security

You can read through the information, but it could be better with the right formatting. Compare the paragraph version above to this revision, which uses numbered lists:

How To Fill Out Form I-765

  1. Type or print legibly in black ink.
  2. If extra space is needed to complete any item
    1. Attach a continuation sheet
    2. Write your name and Alien Registration Number (A-Number) (if any), at the top of each sheet of paper
    3. Indicate the Part and item number to which your answer refers,
    4. Date and sign each sheet.
  3. Answer all questions fully and accurately. State that an item is not applicable with “N/A.” If the answer is none, write “None.”

It should be immediately obvious that the version with the lists is easier to read. It provides a structure that works well with the F-shaped reading pattern.

I have two resources that you should read to learn more about using lists:

  1. Read all four pages of Grammar Girl’s Formatting Vertical Lists (or listen to the podcast). The information will tell you when to use a colon with a list, whether to capitalize list items. how to use other punctuation, and why list items should be parallel.
  2. Read Bulleted & Numbered Lists from the University of Minnesota’s Accessible U. This resource will tell you how to format your lists so that they work well with screenreaders and other assistive technologies.

For your comment on this #TuesdayTutorial, find a short passage from your short proposal that would benefit from being revised as a list. Show us your before and after versions in a comment.

 


 

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Danielle Lehman
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Danielle Lehman

This is a segment of my qualifications section from my short proposal before making it into a list:

I am currently a junior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering and Virginia Tech. In prior classes, I have done a lot of research for some of my papers, so I have some knowledge about what websites are reliable and which ones are not. At RK&K (my summer internship) I used many different design programs and I had to do a little research to get some background knowledge about some of the project that we were working on. I feel like being able to read through a real project proposal will help me through the process of researching and writing about project proposals in the engineering industry.

Danielle Lehman
Guest
Danielle Lehman

This is a segment of my qualifications section from my short proposal after making it into a list:

1. I am currently a junior studying Civil and Environmental Engineering and Virginia Tech.

2. In prior classes, I have done a lot of research for some of my papers, so I have some knowledge about what websites are reliable and which ones are not.

3. At RK&K (my summer internship) I used many different design programs and I had to do a little research to get some background knowledge about some of the project that we were working on.
• I feel like being able to read through a real project proposal will help me through the process of researching and writing about project proposals in the engineering industry.

Cassie+Bienert
Guest
Cassie+Bienert

I updated the scope of my proposal!

2. Areas to be Studied

This genre analysis project will explore the role and relevance of case reports in medical literature and the science field. It will address questions such as How to prepare a reasonable and well-written case report? What are the concerns that peer reviewers may express when reading a case report? Why are medical case reports placed so low on the ladder of evidence-based medicine? How can a medical case report advance your scientific career? What are other advantages or uses for medical case reports?

This project will also explore the ethical issues that may arise when writing case reports. It will further explain the moral guidelines that autohrs should follow. The first is that the author’s primary obligation as a healthcare provider should never be compromised by convenience or academic gain. Second, consent for either clinical course of action or a research participation must be freely given and based on full prior knowledge of the potential benefits and risks. And finally, personal identifiers must be excluded from any case in order to maintain subject confidentiality

The outcome of this research is not only to a better understanding of medical case reports, but also an increase in my probability of receiving favorable reviews on my own manuscripts. Overall, I hope to use this project to increase my likelihood of being published and consequently, known in the field of medicine.

And the updated version…

1. Areas to be Studied

This genre analysis project will explore the role and relevance of case reports in medical literature and the science field. The main questions my research will address include:

” How to prepare a reasonable and well-written case report?
” What are the concerns that peer reviewers may express when reading a case report?
” Why are medical case reports placed so low on the ladder of evidence-based medicine?
” How can a medical case report advance your scientific career?
” What are other advantages or uses for medical case reports?

This project will also explore the ethical issues that may arise when writing case reports. It will further explain the following moral guidelines and provide examples of actions that violate them:

” The author’s primary obligation as a healthcare provider should never be compromised by convenience or academic gain
” Consent for either clinical course of action or a research participation must be freely given and based on full prior knowledge of the potential benefits and risks
” Personal identifiers must be excluded from any case in order to maintain subject confidentiality

The outcome of this research is not only to a better understanding of medical case reports, but also an increase in my probability of receiving favorable reviews on my own manuscripts. Overall, I hope to use this project to increase my likelihood of being published and consequently, known in the field of medicine.

(It looks much cleaner in Word)

Mariel+Jastrebsky
Guest
Mariel+Jastrebsky

This is the portion of my short proposal that I can revise into a bulleted list:

I am qualified to do this research because I am a senior at Virginia Tech University studying food science and technology major with a focus on science. I have had four years of experience in the classroom, as well as two separate internship experiences over the summers. I worked for Red Robin as a Research and Development Intern for 3 months working closely with supplier relations and understanding food specifications. I later had an internship at Clif Bar and Company as a food safety and quality assurance intern working with ingredient suppliers and developing a cohesive HACCP plan. I have many skills that can help me deal with this food product development report including being hard-working, determined, problem-solving skills, and having good time management skills. This will ensure that I find accurate and precise information within an appropriate time frame.

I can revise it to something more like this:

I am qualified to do this research for a number of reasons:
– I am a senior at Virginia Tech University studying food science and technology major with a focus on science
– I have had four years of experience in the classroom
– I worked for Red Robin as a Research and Development Intern for 3 months working closely with supplier relations and understanding food specifications.
– I also had an internship at Clif Bar and Company as a food safety and quality assurance intern working with ingredient suppliers and developing a cohesive HACCP plan.

I also have many skills that can help me deal with this food product development report including:
– being hard-working
– determined
– having problem-solving skills
– having good time management skills

Yoonjin+Kim
Guest
Yoonjin+Kim

Before:
I am currently attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as a Computer Science Engineering major and Industrial Design minor. I am interested in bioinformatics and computational science. I have worked in Virginia Tech undergraduate research program flud and Graphsace, and NASA CubeSat program. I can speak C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Prolog, scala, Swift, and Python. I am passionate about engineering because I believe it will allow me to make real progress in today’s world. There are many fields that promote progress in our world, but I am geared towards the practical and analytic nature of engineering. Engineering excites me because I can actually plan out an idea, design it, make it the reality, and have the power to affect the world with it.
After:

1.Department
– Computer Science Major
– Industrial Design Minor

2.Languages
a. fluent
– java
– python
– C/C++
b. moderate
-JavaScript
-Swift
– Prolog
c. intro
– scala

3. Future plans
– Continuing education
– Graduate school

Rachel Cannon
Guest
Rachel Cannon

I think seeing the difference between the paragraph instructions and the vertical list for “how to fill out form I-765” showed me how much easier lists are to read than paragraph lists. I also never knew when to use bulleted lists or numbered lists, but I learned in Grammar Girl’s article on “Formatting Vertical Lists” that numbered lists should be used when the items need to be in a sequence. I decided based on this information that a bulleted list would clarify the reasons why I wanted to study the genre for my genre analysis report.

Rachel Cannon
Guest
Rachel Cannon

Here is the part of my short proposal before:

I would like to study this genre for the following reasons: Phase I Environmental Site Assessments and their corresponding reports are performed in nearly all development projects, so I will either have to help write ESA reports in my career or be able to read and interpret ESA reports. Additionally, I am applying at land development and water resources engineering firms for summer internships currently that specialize in doing environmental site assessments for development companies; therefore, I would like to learn more information about the reports so I will be more prepared for my internship this summer.

Here is the vertical list of the same information:

I would like to study this genre for the following reasons:
• Phase I Environmental Site Assessments and their corresponding reports are performed in nearly all development projects.
• I will either help write ESA reports in my career or need to read and interpret ESA reports.
• I am applying at land development and water resources engineering firms for summer internships currently that specialize in doing environmental site assessments for development companies.

Mackenzie+Knox
Guest
Mackenzie+Knox

My Methods of Research section before:

The FDA website provides HACCP guidelines for various food products which I will read over and evaluate. I will work to understand why each guideline is set the way it is. I will then search for actual HACCP plans from credible food businesses and evaluate how their plans shape up to the FDA guidelines. Finally, I will use resources on the FDA website to break down how to construct a HACCP plan and make up a mock version of a plan.

My Methods of Research section after:
I will conduct my research by
1. Reading through the HACCP guidelines on the FDA website.
2. Understanding the logic and science behind each guideline.
3. Searching for actual HACCP plans from credible food businesses.
4. Comparing actual HACCP plans to the FDA guidelines.
5. Using the guidelines and actual HACCP plan examples to create a mock version of a plan.

Clement Aboagye Boateng
Guest
Clement Aboagye Boateng

It is significant to use lists when necessary because it makes the passage less boring to read through. This is what I did for my short proposal.

BEFORE
There are few methods of research that can be used in preparing an inspection report. With the genre project, I will be using structures textbook, bridge manual, expert advise by interviewing bridge inspectors.

AFTER
There are few methods of research that can be used in preparing an inspection report. With the genre project, I will be using;
I. Structures textbook
II. Bridge Manual
III. Expert advise by interviewing bridge inspectors

Faizal+Zulkifli
Guest
Faizal+Zulkifli

This is from the Methods of Research section of my short proposal:

Before:
One of the methods I would use is to research writing textbooks from library that specifies in detail the basics of writing a formal technical report. I would also try to compare the information obtained from readings on various online resources to get a solid and a credible source that can be used in the genre analysis report. Besides that, I would also find some examples of technical reports online and also from professional peers to be presented in the report.. I also plan to make an interview with known professional engineers to have them share their experiences of writing a technical report and also share some tips on how to avoid issues such as plagiarizing a document.

After:
• Research writing textbooks from library that specifies in detail the basics of writing a formal technical report.
• Compare the information obtained from readings on various online resources to get a solid and a credible source that can be used in the genre analysis report.
• Find some examples of technical reports online and also from professional peers to be presented in the report.
• Interview known professional engineers to have them share their experiences of writing a technical report and also share some tips on how to avoid issues such as plagiarizing a document.

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