The Lifeology SciComm Program has a new flashcard course to help science communicators, scientists and other experts keep their writing clear and concise. Learn about strategies to keep your writing focused and free of wordiness.

one hand holding light bulb to trade with two other hands holding paper - Writing clearly means writing in a way that is easy for your audience to comprehend. Information is power, and your clear writing can help turn information into knowledge.
Launch Course

Courtney Adams and Shreya Damle created this course. Courtney is a science writer for Lifeology, and she teaches science writing to undergraduates at Texas A&M University. Shreya is an illustrator and motion designer based in San Jose, CA. 

The course likens clear and concise writing to woodworking. We meet Dom, the writer, who goes to visit his friend Lena, the woodworker. As Dom learns more about Lena’s craft, he realizes its processes are similar to his own. 

three people looking at art sculptures with various sculpting tools at the top
drawing of notebook with various planning marks in it (a list and a word web), three people also in the image

Both Dom and Lena consider their audience when they begin planning their creations. This helps them leave out unnecessary details. For clear and concise writing, Dom edits out filler words and removes unneeded jargon. He realizes this is a lot like how Lena carves out finer details on her creations. We learn more strategies Dom uses such as swapping long phrases with shorter ones, using the most simple or common words to explain (bye-bye thesaurus!), and avoiding complex sentences. He polishes his work much like Lena, too! 

This course is full of intricate and engaging artwork. Check out the course to see them all! Along the way, learn a trick or two for making your writing more clear and concise. 

Launch Course

From the Creators:

I was excited to work on this course because copyediting is something that I really enjoy doing–it’s almost like a big puzzle to me. However, I am also not the best at editing my own work. Therefore, I try to keep writing clearly and concisely at the forefront of my brain from the beginning of any writing project. It’s important to keep in mind so that I don’t have wordy or unclear points to weed through later. Additionally, the clear and concise writing tips and tricks in this course are many of the ones I teach to my undergraduate students in my science writing courses. I liked being able to take lecture material and deliver it in a different format!

The most challenging part of this course was trying to fit in all the tips and tricks that I wanted to. I loved the comparison between writing/editing with the woodworking process. However, it definitely was difficult to make a comparison between the two for every tip I wanted to include. 

Overall, my hope is that this course can encourage readers to begin thinking about clear and concise writing. Maybe readers will begin to notice the filler words they use: an unnecessary “very,” an added ”really” or a sneaky little “just.” Once that becomes second nature, maybe they’ll move on to noticing sentence-level wordiness. I don’t expect someone to absorb all the tips and tricks from the course in one swoop. 

And most importantly, it was amazing to see the course come to life with Shreya’s illustrations. She took my script and really turned it into an engaging course through her artwork. I love the illustrations!