Effective Professional Writing: Linking Words
By David Rose
As some of you will already know, I published a two-part series earlier this year outlining the key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’ with a series of practical guidelines and immediately applicable tools
If you haven’t read them yet, then I suggest you go first to part one.
Since then, I’ve received quite a number of requests for a ready-to-use ‘map’ or ‘menu’ of one of the key ingredients for writing clearly and concisely in Professional English – linking words.
Frankly, these requests came as no surprise… linking words are, after all, a 3-dimensional puzzle.
A 3-D puzzle, you ask? Yes – using them effectively means being fully aware of three specific aspects: use, level of formality and grammar.
What exactly do we use each one for – e.g. what’s the basic difference in meaning between ‘however’, ‘consequently’, ‘additionally’ and ‘although’?
[PS: The answer is in the ‘linkers map’ later in this article]
2. Level of formality
Not all linking words of the same meaning (use) have the same levels of formality.
For instance, take the following: ‘consequently’, ‘so’, ‘hence’, ‘thus’, ‘as a result’, ‘therefore’, ‘as’ and ‘since’.
These eight linking words are all of the same use/meaning. However…
• Which of them are less formal (for an internal email/personal correspondence)?
• Which are neutral/formal (for a report, memo, minutes, briefing, external email etc.)?
• Which are very formal (for diplomatic letters, legal text etc.)?
[PPS: Again, the answer is in the ‘linkers map’]
As if that wasn’t enough, after you’ve successfully worked out ‘use’ and ‘level of formality’ you still need one more ingredient to be able to use a linking word effectively: how it works grammatically.
Despite that this is the case, …? Despite of this case, …? Despite of this being the case, …?
[Answer: None of the above! Ideally, use ‘Despite this,’. ‘Despite this being the case,’ is also grammatically correct, but not ideal as it isn’t as concise: English prefers two words over five when, as in this case, they are the same]
Key point: Although they might appear simple, linking words are not quite as straightforward as they might initially seem…
…perhaps that’s why in many professional texts I’ve analysed over the years the writer falls back on the defensive strategy of constantly repeating a very limited group of them…
…unfortunately, as you might already know, International (and native) English considers that type of repetition avoidable – meaning… you’re expected to avoid it!
Now let’s get to the main course.
Here’s your basic, ready-to-use map/menu for the three most common categories of linking words:
Remember, linking words aren’t the ‘be all and end all’ (only key ingredient) of effective professional writing,
[Note: If you’re not sure why, I re-recommend reading my recent two-part series outlining the key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’ :-)]
They do, however, play an essential role in helping you consistently produce well-organised, concise and clear text.
Now, it’s over to you to apply them to your writing.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you feel your organisation can benefit from my consultancy’s personalised, highly practical and cost-effective communication training services.
We offer made to measure training for:
● Professional Writing (reports, minutes, memos, briefings etc.)
● Writing for Impact (web, position papers etc.)
● Presentations (core skills and advanced techniques)
● Public Speaking (speeches, press conferences, interviews etc.)
● Meetings Facilitation/Chairing
● Relationship Building
You can find out more about these training services by visiting www.lacstraining.com.
© David Rose 2011