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The Importance of Clarity in Writing

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The Importance of Clarity in Writing


To write a good paper is there a magical recipe to follow? If there is you will not find it in these two books; Williams' Style: Toward Clarity and Grace and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. What you will find is the elements that should be present to have a successful paper. Of all the styles mention though, one seems to stick out more then the others. This is the element of Clarity.

What is clarity, you may be asking? It is simply the process of making your paper clear to the intended audience of your text. This may sound too easy and most of us probably think our papers are always clear, after all we know what we are saying in them. The question is, does everyone else? Both Williams and Strunk and White mention clarity and the importance it plays in the text we read. Williams point out that when we come across a sentence that is not clear our first reaction is "yuck." He goes on to say, "we do not describe sentences on the page; we describe how we feel about them." (17) When I came to this passage, I had never thought of it that way. I had always blamed the passage in some way if I did not understand it. I wouldn't look to see why it wasn't clear, but would think what an awful sentence, not realizing that it is not the sentence that is awful, but the clarity of it.

It is clarity that makes our sentences sound correct, which in turn will make our paragraphs sound correct and then our entire paper. If we do not have clarity then it will not matter what we write about, because there will be no understanding in it. This is why we need to follow two simple principles according to Williams. These principles are (1) subjects of your sentence should name the characters and (2) ...


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...en. This allows the reader to not feel lost in your paper and will make it more cleared to those who know little on the subject.

Clarity is just one of many elements Williams and Strunk and White covered. I believe it is the most important one though, because without clarity, it doesn't matter what your paper is over. You could find a cure to a deadly disease, but if it is not clear it will never be discovered. It will instead represent many lines of words that do not flow together. You may follow all of the other rules set forth by Strunk and White, but it needs to be readable. Clarity is what makes text readable, even enjoyable and allows a text to succeed.

Works Cited

Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Strunk, William, and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.


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