Improving Sentence Clarity

One of the most common challenges of Indonesian scholars in their written language is about their sentence clarity. Very often, they get such comments from reviewers as “idea not clear”, or “clarity”, or “This should be rewritten to make it clearer”. One of the ways of improving sentence clarity is by starting from old to new information.
Readers will find it difficult when they suddenly have totally new information. Therefore, we should first introduce our readers to the general idea by giving them information that they already know. This is what we call ‘old information’. Then, they will be ready to link that old information to the new one you will provide later. Once the new information becomes familiar, it then also becomes old information that can link to the newer information. Let’s have a look at the following paragraph.

Choice of words is another problem of scholars when they write in English. The lack of exposure to English texts is probably main cause of this problem, so that they do not know the most appropriate words to use. Reading more articles in English can help them get familiar with words and terminologies commonly used in their field. 

Although discussing the same topic, all the sentences in the paragraph above are separated from each other. The second sentence is probably difficult to understand, because it starts with information that is totally new (lack of exposure), that the first sentence has not mentioned. The third sentence also has the same case. It starts with new information (reading more articles in English). If we put this new information later, at the second half of each sentence, the paragraph will be easier to understand. Look at the revised version below.

Choice of words is another problem of scholars when they write in English. Such a problem is probably because they lack exposure to English texts, that they do not know the appropriate words to use. They can get more exposure by reading more articles in English, to get familiar with words and terminologies commonly used in their fields. 

Do you think the second paragraph is easier to understand? If so, that’s because the information flows from the old to the new one. Readers are always prepared before they receive new information. The bold phrases are all old information that have already mentioned in the earlier sentence(s). Such a problem refers to problem of choice of words, they refers to scholars, and more exposure refers to exposure. 

Sentence clarity is indeed a common problem of authors from English-as-a-foreign-language countries, not only in Indonesia. Do you also have such a problem? To save your time, you can have a professional editing service make your document sound native-like English.

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