Placement Matters

Poor sentence construction can confuse or, worse, mislead your reader. This happens often in cause-and-effect statements, where sloppy ordering of multiple effects can blur or change your meaning.

MISLEADING: City Council passed the measure, which led to the removal of graffiti and safer streets. [Why are we removing safer streets?]
ON THE MONEY: City Council passed the measure, which led to safer streets and the removal of graffiti.

Sentences containing lists can be booby-trapped with unintended meaning. Closely examine your lists to ensure that items don’t appear erroneously linked. (This usually happens when an item in the list is modified. The modification unintentionally seems to extend to other items in the list.)

MISLEADING: Please bring your ideas about this year’s theme, the appropriate documents, and a dish to pass to the meeting. [You want us to bring our ideas about documents and a dish to pass?]
ON THE MONEY: Please bring the appropriate documents, a dish to pass, and your ideas about this year’s theme to the meeting.

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