How to write effective headings

The goal of using headings in a document is not only to divide information, but also to allow easy navigation of the document. Headings help readers find the specific information they want while retaining a sense of how that information fits with everything else in the document.

To test for overall heading clarity, ask yourself the following: from reading your headings in sequence, would an informed reader understand…

  • The content of the document as a whole?
  • The specific content of each section?
  • How each section fits with the others?

If not, your headings need some improvement.

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Common grammatical problems with clarity and logic

Most grammatical rules help us establish clear structure in language, meaning that they’re not just rules for the sake of having rules—they’re rules for the sake of clearer communication. This article outlines some of the most commonly violated grammatical rules that effect clarity or logic and don’t fit easily under other headings like punctuation or sentence structure.

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Common word choice confusions

There are words that you should (mostly) avoid, but a handful of other words are simply misused or misunderstood. These prove useful in many situations and are used by nearly everyone, but their occasional misuse or abuse can sew confusion in your writing and turn your reader away.

This article lists some of the most frequently misused words, focusing both on issues specific to ESL writers and on issues for all writers of English.

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Common sentence construction problems

Sentence construction describes how the different parts of a sentence are put together, from its punctuation to the ordering of its words.

This article examines some of the most common types of sentence construction problems, so you can avoid them in your own writing. These problems include both grammatical errors and clarity issues.

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47 phrasal verbs and their one-word substitutions

The following is a list of commonly deployed phrasal verbs that find one use or another in academic texts. These (and others) can be acceptably used in academic texts. Along with these examples, however, are a number of one-word substitutions to illustrate that in each case the phrasal verb can be easily replaced.

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Getting your phrasal verbs right

Although the best choice is usually to avoid phrasal verbs, they occur so commonly that finding adequate replacements all of the time will be difficult. And that’s okay. Change them when you can, and when you “run out” of ideas for rephrasing, “cheer up,” “believe in” yourself, and “write down” your phrasal verbs conscientiously.

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What’s a phrasal verb?

Among the most commonly misused verbs are phrasal verbs, and for good reason: the meaning of phrasal verb cannot be explained by merely finding the definition of its component words.

Phrasal verbs go by many names, including “prepositional verbs,” “particle verbs,” and “two-part verbs.”

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Word Order Rules in English

In theory, English sentences take a simple form much of the time. The basic rules for which words appear in a sentence can help you with most of the sentences you’ll need in academic writing.

If we push on these rules, we’ll find many exceptions, but the point here is only to provide a kind of template that can be followed much of the time.

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