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25 Ways to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

25 Ways to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

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Published by tpiszk
How to write better and faster from scratch? Well, I have compiled my documents that have been published at Scribd. And a new eBook is just released. I think this may help you. In this practical, no-nonsense material, you will discover:

- How to develop basic habits as a writer
- How to get started
- How to write more in less time
- How to make your paragraphs flow
- And more

A PDF version of this document may be available at our website in the future (not right now). Until then, enjoy the eBook!
How to write better and faster from scratch? Well, I have compiled my documents that have been published at Scribd. And a new eBook is just released. I think this may help you. In this practical, no-nonsense material, you will discover:

- How to develop basic habits as a writer
- How to get started
- How to write more in less time
- How to make your paragraphs flow
- And more

A PDF version of this document may be available at our website in the future (not right now). Until then, enjoy the eBook!

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: tpiszk on May 11, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/31/2013

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Bonus Tip Included!

Keys

25

to Write Better and Faster From Scratch
Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D. ScientificWritingGuide.com

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Copyright © 2009 by Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Published by: Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D. Fuchu, Tokyo Japan www.ScientificWritingGuide.com
Graphic Design by: Rome Graphics Design

25 Keys to Write Faster and Better From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D. ScientificWritingGuide.com

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Table of Contents
Part I: How to Develop Basic Habits as a Writer ........................... 1
1. Use Dictionaries ........................................................................................................... 2 2. Use Thesauruses .......................................................................................................... 2 3. Use The Chicago Manual of Style .............................................................................. 2 4. Read Regularly ............................................................................................................. 3 5. Watch Words................................................................................................................. 3 6. Develop a Good Ear ..................................................................................................... 3 7. Read Books on Writing ................................................................................................ 4

Part II: How to Get Started ............................................................... 5
8. Clarify the Reason Why You Write ........................................................................... 5 9. Do the Literature Search ............................................................................................. 5 10. Take Notes ................................................................................................................... 5 11. Do Writing Exercises.................................................................................................. 6 12. Picture Your Audience .............................................................................................. 6 13. Make a Decision about Authorship ......................................................................... 7

Part III: How to Write More in Less Time ........................................ 8
14. Juggle Multiple Projects ............................................................................................. 8 15. Set Ambitious Goals .................................................................................................. 8 16. Manage Information Overload ................................................................................. 9 17. Delegate and Outsource ............................................................................................ 9 18. Keep Your Mouth Shut .............................................................................................10 19. Use Familiar Words...................................................................................................10

Part IV: How to Make Your Paragraphs Flow ............................... 11
20. Make Your Writing Move towards Only One Direction .....................................11 21. Avoid Side Issues .......................................................................................................11 22. Use a Topic Sentence per Paragraph .......................................................................12 23. Use Short Paragraphs ...............................................................................................12 24. Vary Sentence Lengths .............................................................................................12 25. Use Bridge Words......................................................................................................12

Bonus Tip: 5 Steps to Write an Abstract of a Scientific Paper ...................... 14 More Information ............................................................................. 16

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Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Part How to Develop Basic Habits as a Writer

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“It is simple though. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of it.”

riting is not my natural talent. So long as I am concerned, writing is rather a skill acquired through experience and practice. If so, is there a shortcut to improve writing? Well, I don’t know the ultimate answer. However, I do believe you can cut the learning curve in half and compress the learning processes.

How? First, I think you have to develop certain habits as a writer. In Part I, I want to share 7 habits. Here they are: 1) use dictionaries; 2) use thesauruses; 3) use The Chicago Manual of Style; 4) read regularly; 5) watch words; 6) develop a good ear; 7) read books on writing. This sounds pretty simple, right? It is simple though. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of it. It’s like weight loss or exercise: you know what you should do, but it’s not necessarily easy to constantly do the right thing. I think that maintaining all the habits all at the same time creates more substantial snowball effect over the long term. If you want to improve writing, I want you to start developing these habits for the next 60 days!

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

1. Use Dictionaries
Keep dictionaries at hand and use them on a regular basis. This is a simple yet powerful way to improve your writing. When you wonder what a word really means, you consult a dictionary. Make it a habit to do so. Even if you already know the word, you probably learn something new. Using dictionaries will help you to clarify your thinking processes and to choose the right word. Here are dictionaries I would recommend: • Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary • Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners of American English In addition to dictionaries, it is also helpful for you to have reference books or an encyclopedia in your specific field. For example, if you are a chemist, you may need McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Chemistry.

2. Use Thesauruses

As Gaius Julius Caesar said, “Avoid an unusual and unfamiliar word just as you would a reef.”

Thesauruses may increase your vocabulary, but that is not the point I want to emphasize here. A reason why you use a thesaurus is that you can find short and familiar words. Don’t try to find words that you don’t normally encounter. Don’t try to impress others by using unfamiliar words. Unfamiliar words are powerless; short, familiar words powerful. As Gaius Julius Caesar said, “Avoid an unusual and unfamiliar word just as you would a reef.” Another reason is that you can reduce phrases or words you unconsciously overuse. This is especially true of transition phrases. We tend to use the same transition phrase over and over. By using a thesaurus, you may replace in addition by also, besides, additionally, furthermore, further, or what is more. You may replace on the other hand by nonetheless, but, although, yet, or, however, depending on the context.

3. Use The Chicago Manual of Style
Many books, textbooks, teachers, writers, and professors may talk about grammatical rules a hundred times in a hundred way; but the only thing I can trust in this area is The Chicago Manual of Style, which is known as “the indispensable reference for all work with words.” You can use this manual the same way you use a dictionary. The Chicago doesn’t lie. It gives you detailed guidelines and rules that are based on logic and convention.

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©2009 Teppei Suzuki

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

I want to emphasize this: when it comes to grammatical rules, no person is more knowledgeable than The Chicago Manual of Style. Yes, you don’t need The Chicago every single time you write. However, using The Chicago is crucial especially if you want to write in a more professional style. You might think intricate details may seem to have nothing to do with your writing. But God is in the detail. That’s why I want you to pay attention to detailed aspects of your writing. The Chicago Manual of Style will save your time for this purpose.

4. Read Regularly
Yes, you have to read in order to write. The more you read, the faster you are able to write. Read many articles in your niche or field to learn current topics, their specific language, and what your audience is interested in. Also read a lot of materials that have nothing to do with your field. Read financial reports, business news, magazines, sales letters, poems, and so on. You may learn how newspapers convey information concisely. You may learn how a financial report describes precise numbers. You may learn how magazines feature current trends. You may learn how a copywriter grabs readers’ attention and persuade them. By doing this, you can also stay touch with changes in the language. Remember, language is constantly changing.

5. Watch Words
Your good spelling comes from your ability to visualize English words in your mental mind. If you try to memorize the spelling of a word by associating it with the pronunciation, you may misspell. If you know words you often misspell, pick up these words, store them in flash cards. Watch them from time to time, and try to visualize them in you metal mind.

6. Develop a Good Ear
Have you ever been overwhelmed by complex grammatical rules? Grammatical rules are tough to remember at least for me, and I don’t want to pick up a textbook on grammar ever single time. Well, here is a solution to this: listening to audio books or audio programs. Why? The answer is simple if you consider the following truth: you have learned language from your ears, not from your eyes or memorizing rules. The writer’s writer Gary Provost said, “It’s not a matter of remembering rules you were given in high schools. It is, quite simply, a matter of music.” In other words, developing a good ear reduces grammatical mistakes. If you are not a

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

native speaker, you have to develop a good ear more consciously. By listening to audio books, you can develop the rhythm that native speakers have.

7. Read Books on Writing
Success becomes easier if you leverage the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of writers who have solid track records. If you want to cut the learning curve in half and accelerate your learning processes, read books on writing you are interested in. Here I pick up two books on writing. 1) 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost. If you like this Report, you’ll probably like this book. One day I stumbled upon this book at a local bookstore in Tokyo and picked up this book. It grabbed my attention. Within 24 hours, it changed my writing style. This is my favorite. And in all honesty I think the book is far more useful and practical than The Elements of Style. Fortunately, it just costs 7 cents per writing tip. His book Make Your Words Work is also useful for both fiction and nonfiction. 2) Super-Productivity For Writers by Bob Bly. If you want to write faster and to be more productive, you may want this ebook. Bob Bly is a prolific and competent copywriter and the man McGraw-Hill calls “America’s top copywriter.” He wrote 70+ books in his spare time simply because he is a fast writer. This ebook will help writers who want to double or triple their productivity.

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©2009 Teppei Suzuki

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Part How to Prepare and Get Started

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“Take notes no matter how crazy or odd an idea seems to be.”

hey say, “You have to take actions!” or “Just write!” OK, that might be true. But do you know how to get started in your writing project? Do you know exactly what to do next? Actually, what I found is that getting started is not simply about jumping in and writing about something, although doing writing exercises is important. In Part II, I give you a step-by-step plan to get started.

8. Clarify the Reason Why You Write
Do you know what motivates you most? The first step to getting started is to get there in your mind first. In other words, clarify your intention: image it, think about it, and visualize it. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Whenever you lose enthusiasm or feel unmotivated, go back to this place.

9. Do the Literature Search
“You cannot write securely on any subject unless you have gathered far more information than you will use,” said Gary Provost. Literature search takes more time than you might think, but it’s worth it. As you gather information, ask yourself, “What is already known?” “What is not known?” “Is there any contradictory story in the literature?” These questions will help you when you write the Introduction section. Doing the literature search is indeed essential down the road.

10. Take Notes
As you set your intention and get started, new ideas will come to you anywhere at any time. If you don’t take notes, your ideas will probably go elsewhere. Even if you can remember every idea, keeping many ideas in your mind is not very good for your mental health. The solution is to capture you ideas. Take notes no matter how crazy or odd an idea seems to be. Take notes on your interpretation of data, a new concept of experiments, or a new idea of an algorithm, and so on.

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

11. Do Writing Exercises
While taking notes is part of writing exercise, it is also important to do writing exercises on a regular basis. Write down anything for a certain amount of time, whether you are motivated or not. Why is this important? The reason is this: by doing writing exercises, you naturally view yourself as a person who writes. That makes you a writer. Here are 3 steps to do writing exercises: • Step 1: Write down whatever comes to your mind. Let words come to your mind and let words out of your head. While you are writing, don’t worry about making mistakes.

“But neglect this little voice (or your ego) and keep writing.”

• Step 2: Don’t edit while you are writing. Keep writing even if you don’t like some wording or phrases. • Step 3: Keep writing for a certain amount of time (15 minutes, or 33 minutes, or 50 minutes). Save what you have written and don’t throw away anything. You are done. If you keep doing writing exercises for a couple of months or less, you will get your first draft. Remember, when you are doing writing exercises, a little voice inside you may say: “What will they think?” or “What will they say?” But neglect this little voice (or your ego) and keep writing. In the beginning, your writing should be exclusively yours. Remember what E. B. White said: “The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”

12. Picture Your Audience
What kind of terminology should you use? What kinds of technical terms do you have to explain before you use them? What kind of background knowledge do you have to include? The answer: it all depends on audience you try communicate. Picturing your audience is important for you to communicate effectively. So who is your reader? Think about it for a moment.

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Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

13. Make a Decision about Authorship
Authorship is a serious matter, so you have to make a decision on authorship at an early stage, not at the last minute. Two important things: First, include researchers who intellectually and substantially contributed to the work. Second, eliminate those who had little contribution to the work.

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

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Part How to Write More In Less Time

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D

o you want to write more in less time? Maybe you think writing faster is a special talent. Well, I used to think that way. But there is a proven strategy to write faster and be more productive. In Part III, I want to share 6 ways to be more productive in writing.

14. Juggle Multiple Projects
If you write about the same topic all the time, you will get bored even if you are really passionate about that topic. Eventually this leads to less productivity. One way to avoid this situation is to juggle multiple projects in a day. In other words, switch back and forth between tasks. If you are tired of writing one topic, then switch to another project. Bob Bly says, “Arrange your daily schedule so you switch off from one assignment to another at least once or twice each day. Variety, as the saying goes, is indeed the spice of life.”

“How ambitious should you be? What if you could use Albert Einstein as a role model?”

15. Set Ambitious Goals
“Most people do not set their sights high enough,” says a productive copywriter Bob Bly in his book 101 Ways to Make Every Second Count. “Do not use the average workers as a role model for productivity.” I really agree with him. Here is why: have you ever known people who accomplished 100% of their goals? The answer is probably no. The idea is that, since we accomplish our goals less than 100%, if you set more ambitious goals, we end up with accomplishing more. How ambitious should you be? What if you could use Albert Einstein as a role model? The physicist has published at least 4 seminal papers in 1905 at age 26, including a paper on special relativity. Maybe you can use his accomplishments as a role model for productivity. Crazy? But you never know. You may end up

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with accomplishing a couple of major goals in just one year. But unless you don’t have that kind of ambitious intension, you will never think about it and therefore you cannot achieve it. Another example: did you know Isaac Asimov wrote 515 books and Georges Simenon wrote about 450+ books? If you set an ambitious goal such as publishing 300 books, I may end up with publishing 5 books or even 50 books. That would be great. On the other hand, if you set a seemingly doable goal such as publishing a book, you may end up with publishing no book. The difference here is that the former is ambitious and exciting, while the latter is just what most people have in mind. Bob Bly believes that in order to be productive, you need to set ambitious goals. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. So have many goals.

16. Manage Information Overload

“Productive writers know time is a precious commodity.”

Because of the Internet, we live in the world of information overload, and information is rapidly increasing. Today no one can read all the books out there; no one can gather all the information about even one single topic. Furthermore, we are perpetually exposed to advertisements through web sites, blogs, emails, TV shows, magazines, and so on. As a result, we become so frustrated. We have to manage information overload. How? There are many ways to do that: Start being selective about what you read. Select only two or three magazines in your specific field. Spend less time in reading and writing emails or blogs. Unsubscribe some ezines. Stop watching TV shows. You can stop reading even newspapers. It will not kill you. If something very important happens, people will tell you about it. If you manage information overload and reduce unproductive time, you can create more productive time and therefore write faster. It’s a simple formula.

17. Delegate and Outsource
Productive writers know that time is a precious commodity and that time is more valuable than money. They don’t try to do all of their noncrucial tasks; they simply do what they do best and outsource the rest. So, it is a good idea for you to delegate some noncrucial tasks to someone so that you can create more productive hours. You can start small. Just spend a little bit

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

of your money to save a little bit of your time. For example, have someone run errands for you, wash your cars, mow your lawn, and so on. Pay extra money any time you can to save any amount of time.

18. Keep Your Mouth Shut
“If A equals success, then A = X + Y + Z. X is work, Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut,” said Albert Einstein. If you are talking about it, you are not writing it. It is that simple. Furthermore, talking tends to eliminate your motivation to write. Productive writers rather shut up, sit down, and start writing. On the other hand, non-productive writers tend to be chatting and end up with accomplishing less. A best-selling author Robert Ringer is right when he says, “If you’ve got something good going, shut up!” “The nice thing is that the more you succeed, the more reason you have to feel secure, which should result in your having less of an urge to talk about your plans and more of a desire to produce results.” Robert Ringer thinks that the best way to write faster is to create large blocks of uninterrupted time (at least four hours) for high-level concentration every single day.

19. Use Familiar Words
If you use unfamiliar words, chances are that you stop, open a dictionary, and start searching for words. And you end up with being distracted and losing your momentum. Since writing is a painful job that requires total concentration, once you lose that concentration, you have to create it all over again. This is inefficient. The solution? Use short, familiar words. This strategy saves time and energy and therefore increases your productivity. When you use familiar words, you don’t need a dictionary most of the time; hence, you can concentrate on your writing more easily. Bob Bly says that the reason why Isaac Asimov and Georges Simenon were prolific was that they used short, familiar words and avoided long, unfamiliar words. As I mentioned, Isaac Asimov wrote 515 books; Georges Simenon, about 450 books or more.

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©2009 Teppei Suzuki

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Part How to Make Your Paragraphs Flow

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H
“… these 5 techniques do work for me and I think they will work for you.”

ave you ever been frustrated by seeing an awkward transition from a paragraph to the next paragraph and not knowing how to fix it? I myself really wanted to know how to fix it and how to make paragraphs flow naturally. In Part IV, I want to share 5 easy ways to do this. I’m not a natural writer, but these 5 techniques do work for me and I think they will work for you. Here they are:

20. Make Your Writing Move towards Only One Direction
It is wise to avoid long transitions because long transitions tend to distract your reader. Paragraph by paragraph, the logical progression of your writing should help your reader to walk through towards only one direction (i.e., your main points), and not hold them back. To put it simply, organize your writing in a straightforward way. An effective way to do this is to pick up your topic sentences, outline them, and see how your writing is organized. If you are like me, you will have to reorganize the structure of your writing. That’s fine. Then, to create natural transitions between paragraphs, you can use transition phrases such as, “However,” “On the other hand,” “Another reason is,” “In addition to,” “To understand this,” “For instance,” and so on. You can also use bridge words as I will mention later.

21. Avoid Side Issues
Don’t try to include everything. “An article is not everything that’s true. It’s every important thing that’s true,” said Gary Provost. And that’s true. Your reader can be distracted by side issues; because, like it or not, the reader is not so tolerant as you might assume. So eliminating side issues is crucial to make your writing flow. If you find any sentence that doesn’t support a topic sentence,

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

it is a good idea to cross it off. By the same token, if you find any paragraph that is not directly linked to your main points, you can eliminate that paragraph completely. In other words, don’t include it in the first place.

22. Use a Topic Sentence per Paragraph
Using a topic sentence in a paragraph is an effective way to make your writing clear and strong. Once you determine which sentence is your topic sentence, the function of the rest of the sentences is to support that topic sentence. This is important. If a particular sentence doesn’t seem to support your topic sentence, that means that particular sentence can be eliminated from your paragraph. By doing this, you eliminate side issues. However, this doesn’t mean you have to use topic sentences all the time. If you break a long paragraph into two or three ones, they might not have a topic sentence. Shorter paragraphs may have no topic sentence; longer paragraph may have two topic sentences. But in general, you include one topic sentence in a paragraph, while you may break this rule occasionally.

“The sad thing is that monotonous writing is boring. Even in academic writing, you need variety.”

23. Use Short Paragraphs
It is a good idea to use short paragraphs occasionally. Why? Because it gives your reader a short break. Ongoing long paragraphs tend to be overwhelming and boring. On the other hand, people are pleased to read a short paragraph if it is concisely packed. Also, effective use of short paragraphs creates rhythm in your writing. And that’s a good thing.

24. Vary sentence lengths.
Varying sentence lengths is good because it creates rhythm. The sad thing is that monotonous writing is boring. Even in academic writing, you need variety. Variety. You use short sentences. Most of the time, you can use medium sentences. But sometimes you can use a long, carefully crafted sentence to grab reader’s attention, let them concentrate on the subject, and create a magic moment – a moment when, even if they know they just read black ink on a piece of white paper, they forget about it and cannot help but keep reading. So create rhythm.

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Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

25. Use Bridge Words
Using a bridge word can sometimes help you to create a natural transition. What is a bridge word exactly? A bridge word is a word that appears both in the last sentence of a paragraph and in the first sentence of the next paragraph. Here is an example:
…Together, these changes strengthen the synaptic connections the neurons. If glutamate produces a strong enough response or excitation in a neuron, the nerve impulse can pass along to the next neuron and the next…(C&EN, Sept 3, page 10, 2007)

The last sentence of one paragraph ends with “…Together, these changes strengthen the synaptic connections the neurons.” Then, the first sentence of the next sentence starts with “If glutamate produces a strong enough response or excitation in a neuron, the nerve impulse can pass along to the next neuron and the next…” See? Using a bridge word neuron gives a natural transition here. So next time you write, spend a little time in considering whether or not you can use a bridge word in your writing.

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Bonus Tip:

5 Steps to Write an Abstract of a Scientific Paper

H
“… here’s the most important rule: Write the main body first.”

ave you ever struggled with writing the Abstract of your paper? I have read dozens of books on scientific writing and academic writing; but I could not find a simple solution to this task. Through many mistakes and failures, I have got to the point where I can summarize 5 steps to do this intimidating task, i.e., writing the Abstract of your paper. This task will be easier if you follow these 5 steps. But before I mention, here’s the most important rule: Write the main body first. Then, and only then, write the Abstract. “I should mention that some experienced writers prepare their title and Abstract after the paper is written, even though by placement these elements come first,” says Robert A. Day, the author of How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. And that’s true. OK. Let us look at these 5 steps.

Step 1: Write why you have done it
Write motivation or background of your work. In other words, write the reason why you have done it. If you find it difficult to write motivation or background, then go back and ask yourself, why have I done this research? Is it because your research is an urgent issue? Is it because it will have a high impact on a specific field? Is it because it is a long-sought topic in the history of science? You get the idea. You have done it for some reason. When you write motivation or background, it is acceptable to try to reach as wide audience as possible. Remember, if your audience reads the first sentence and then lose their interests, they may not read any further.

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©2009 Teppei Suzuki

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

Step 2: Write how you have done it
Next, briefly write how you have done your research. Write your computational methods or experimental designs and settings. However, do not try to include every detail because it will distract the reader.

Step 3: Write major results
Write your major results or summary; but again, do not try to include everything. You may have many results you want to mention. In your Abstract, however, you pick up only two or three important results of your work. Alternatively, it would be even better to write the single most important result out of the three. As you can see, the process of Step 3 is much easier after you have already written the main body of your research paper.

“…the main purpose of your Abstract is to get potential audience actually read your paper.”

Step 4: Write outlook or implications of your work
Write outlook, benefits, or implications. Or write why and how your work has an impact on current scientific knowledge. This is an important point. Because, like it or not, your reader has one question in mind: “What’s in it for me?” So you have to answer to this question in your Abstract. Remember, the main purpose of your Abstract is to get potential audience actually read your paper. To do so you not only write your conclusions but also include outlook, benefits, or implications reasonably derived from you work.

Step 5: Rewrite for brevity
Rewrite for brevity. After you have done Steps 1–4, now is the time to rewrite. Most Abstracts are limited to 100–200 words, depending your target journal. Therefore, you should be short and concise sentence by sentence, word by word. You can do this by (1) eliminating unnecessary words, (2) using short, familiar words, (3) avoiding jargons, terminologies, and references, and (4) using simple sentence structures. At the same time, please keep in mind what Quintus Horatius Flaccus, a Roman poet, said: Brevis esse laboro, Obscurus fio. Which means, if you try hard to be succinct, you merely become obscure. Be careful about that.

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25 Keys to Write Better and Faster From Scratch

Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D.

More Information
About us: Mission of ScientificWrtingGuide.com is to provide valuable and practical information at affordable cost for everyone who is willing to learn scientific writing, which will eventually improve scientific communications in our society. We are committed to ensure that information we provide is written in plain English so that everyone can learn easily and quickly. Teppei Suzuki, Ph.D. www.ScientificWritingGuide.com If you have any questions or suggestions, send me an email at: teppei.suzuki@gmail.com.

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