Scientific writing: Stop using convoluted bracketed constructions to tell your reader about opposites

Stop using convoluted bracketed constructions to tell your reader about opposites in your scientific writing.

For example, writing:

The first and second models overestimate (underestimate) precipitation in spring (summer).

is confusing. The reader still has to read the words enclosed in parentheses: in her head she hears the words “underestimate precipitation in spring” –  or at least this is what I hear. This wasn’t your intention, right?

I instead advocate the use of an elegant semicolon construction:

The first and second models overestimate precipitation in spring; though they underestimate it in summer.

Not only are the words now in the right order, but your correct use of a semicolon (to separate two phrases that could form a sentence on their own) has emphasized their opposition. Just like Winston Churchill did here.

Advertisements