March 18 2010

Focus on parallelism

by Barbie in Writing

Parallel structure—or using the same pattern of words for two or more ideas—is one mark of a good writer. Parallelism makes your document easy to read, guiding readers through lists or lengthy sentences with ease. When you’re proofreading your document, take time to look at any words or phrases joined by conjunctions like “and” or “or.” Ensure that each word or phrase in this list has the same form—either a noun (or noun phrase), verb (or verb phrase), or gerund. Bulleted lists can be particularly tricky spots for parallelism, so make sure your bullets are parallel.

Here are some parallel structure examples:

  • Not Parallel: The next steps require you to knead the dough, roll it out, and baking it for 20 minutes.
  • Parallel: The next steps require you to knead the dough, roll it out, and bake it for 20 minutes.
  • Not Parallel: To troubleshoot the problem, log off of the network, restart your computer, and your system administrator should be contacted.
  • Parallel: To troubleshoot the problem, log off of the network, restart your computer, and contact your system administrator.
  • Not Parallel: You can do the following on our website: shop for products, find answers to frequently asked questions, and interacting with our online community.
  • Parallel: You can do the following on our website: shop for products, find answers to frequently asked questions, and interact with our online community.