Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 47 [writing/editing game]

this-weeks-challenge-question-marcia-riefer-johnstonWelcome to the concise-writing game, Tighten This! Here’s Challenge Sentence 47, courtesy of someone who wants to remain unnamed because this sentence—yes, it’s one sentence—comes from a real document except for the innocence-protecting do-hickeys and whatz-its. Go ahead, wring sense out of this one!

When the do-hickey input is connected through external whatz-its that, when opened, whatz-itize the neutral or when the automatic backfeed whatz-itization is provided external to the equipment or is connected to an IP power distribution system, a label must be fitted at the do-hickey input terminals, and on all primary power whatz-its installed remote from the do-hickey area and on external access points between such whatz-its and the do-hickey, by the user, displaying the following text (or equivalent in a language which is acceptable in the country in which the do-hickey system is installed): label text here.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, May 13.]

Tips:

Last Week’s Challenge Sentence

In case you’re playing this game for the first time (welcome!), or in case you’ve had other things on your mind since you read the previous Challenge Sentence, here it is again:

People who are in this role tend to be people who mentor people.

Read on to hear thoughts from the game’s three judges: Larry Kunz (a seasoned technical writer and blogger who has participated in this game from the beginning), Ray (my husband), and me.

Larry’s Pick (Larry Kunz speaking)

Hmmm….This week’s sentence is a little different. Not the long-winded bafflegab we usually see here. I wonder how our players will tighten it?

Right out of the box comes a good one from Carmen.

Jim contributes an earworm. Ugh. No points for Gryffindor for that, I’m afraid.

Joan flips the subject from people to the role. So do Avi, Vinish, and (by pronoun) Karen. I like that.

Everyone reduces the people count from three to either one or none.

Great job, people!

My pick this week is Joan’s: by focusing on the role, not the people, she shortens the sentence substantially. And her verb, attracts, adds color.

This role attracts mentors.

tight-writing-Joan

How did Marcia arrive at the translation formula in the spreadsheet above? See “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”

Ray’s Pick (Ray Johnston speaking)

This week’s sentence crawls into our clinic suffering from redundancy, be-verbitis, wordiness, vagueness, and lack of a subject. (Dubious Achievement Award for packing all those ills into 13 words.) We can’t, without jumping to unwarranted conclusions, do much about the vagueness, but the rest of the problems respond nicely to the scalpel:

Mentors usually fill this role.

or

This task often falls to a mentor.

Some interns perform the indicated surgeries and then, with laudable enthusiasm but without circumspection, tackle the vagueness; and in so doing, they expose themselves—and our clinic!—to a slew of malpractice suits:

  • One concludes, without evidence, that this role attracts mentors.
  • One concludes, without evidence, that whoever created the role intended for mentors to fill it.
  • Two conclude, without evidence, that the role itself involves mentorship.
  • A few retain the redundundundant mentor others.

Julian comes closest:

Mentors typically play this role.

tight-writing-Julian

If you don’t mind waiting a week or two, Julian, we’ll send you some virtual Oregon strawberries as soon as they show up at the farmers’ market.

Marcia’s Pick (Marcia Johnston speaking)

What a collection of thoughtful responses. Thanks, everyone, for playing!

When a sentence shoves its subject (people) at you three times, you know it’s time to tighten—or to burst into song, as Jim Durning suggests: People. People who mentor people are the luckiest people in this role.

Stella Robertson’s logic wins the day. She says, “We don’t know what group of people the writer means, but the reader knows, so ‘These people’ should be good” in place of “people in this role.” She also replaces “tend to” with “often.” Like other players, she squeezes the sentence down to just one people and ditches both of the weak be-verbs (are and to be), resulting in this five-word gem:

These people often mentor others.

tight-writing-Stella

Julian Cable also gets us down to five words (as shown in the spreadsheet earlier):

Mentors typically play this role.

By changing mentor to a noun and moving it to the beginning, Julian eliminates people altogether. People. People who don’t need people…

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Again, Challenge Sentence 47

When the do-hickey input is connected through external whatz-its that, when opened, whatz-itize the neutral or when the automatic backfeed whatz-itization is provided external to the equipment or is connected to an IP power distribution system, a label must be fitted at the do-hickey input terminals, and on all primary power whatz-its installed remote from the do-hickey area and on external access points between such whatz-its and the do-hickey, by the user, displaying the following text (or equivalent in a language which is acceptable in the country in which the do-hickey system is installed): label text here.

Your revision: _______________________
[Scroll to the bottom and put your revision in a comment by Friday, May 13.]

Go!

Index of Challenge Sentences

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20 thoughts on “Tighten This! Challenge Sentence 47 [writing/editing game]

  1. Label 1) do-hickey input terminals, 2) primary power whatz-its, and 3) external access points between whatz-its and the do-hickey when A) the do-hickey input is connected through external whatz-its, B) is connected to an IP power distribution system, C) installed separately from the do-hickey are, and D) the automatic backfeed whatz-itization is provided externally. The label should read in acceptable language in the country in which the do-hickey system is installed.

    This is why I highly admire good technical writers. I am not among them. My brain hurts.

  2. Affix labels indicating input and output channels on all equipment when installed.

  3. If you connect the do-hickey input to the whatz-its, attach labels stating “label text” at all these points:
    * do-hickey input terminals
    * primary power whatz-its remote from the do-hickey area
    * external access points between these whatz-its and the do-hickey.
    Note: Label text must be in the local language.

  4. Oops! I had ‘label text’ after ‘stating’ in the above submission, but as I had those words in arrow braces, it was treated as unrecognisable HTML and stripped out. The intro sentence should read: If you connect the do-hickey input to the whatz-its, attach labels stating ‘label text’ at all these points:

  5. My first reaction: This week’s challenge is too tricky to get my hands dirty. 🙂
    Second: Open the contest page and try again.
    Third: Pull my hands back, again!

  6. Fit labels reading “Label text here” in the operator’s language to all do-hickey input terminals, remote primary power whatz-its, and external access points, if:
    • external whatz-its are connected to the do-hickey
    • automatic backfeed whatzitization is provided externally, or
    • IP power distribution systems are used.

  7. I would abandon the entire anguished paragraph and call on my trusted graphic designer to produce a labelled diagram to illustrate the flow.
    (And I would love some Oregon strawberries, virtual or otherwise!)

  8. This one was horrid! And should never have been a single sentence. Here is my crack at it.

    The following conditions require a translatable label in the format “label text here”:
    –The do-hickey input is connected through external whatz-its that, when opened, whatz-itize the neutral
    –The automatic backfeed whatz-itization is external, or connects to an IP power distribution system

    Apply the label in all these places:
    –At the do-hickey input terminals
    –On all primary power whatz-its remote from the terminals
    –On all access points between the whatz-its and the do-hickey

  9. If one of these conditions apply:
    • The do-hickey input is connected through external whatz-its that, when opened, whatz-itize the neutral
    • The automatic backfeed whatz-itization is connected to an IP power distribution system or is provided externally
    Affix the “label text here” label to the following locations:
    • The do-hickey input terminals
    • All primary power whatz-its installed remote from the do-hickey area
    • External access points between whatz-its and the do-hickey

  10. Provide localized labels for do-hickey input terminals, connected primary power whatz-its, and connecting external access points.

  11. It’s very difficult to say if the meaning is correct, but I tried to diagram the sentence with cascading bullets.

    Label, in the local language:

    • remote primary power whatz-its
    • external access points
    • do-hickey input terminals, if:
      • the neutral is externally whatz-itized
      • automatic backfeed is:
        • externally whatz-itized
        • connected to IP power
  12. Oh, I see that my indents didn’t take. Indent the two lines after “if:” and indent twice the two lines after “is:”

    • Hi, Tim. I used the “ul” and “li” buttons (which I don’t think are publicly available) to do the nested indenting. I think that your list now looks the way you wanted it to look.

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