Wednesday, August 9, 2017

When should I use acronyms (abbreviated words)?


In general, I encourage my MBA admissions consulting clients to avoid acronyms whenever possible. Unless you need to use an acronym to save words, and unless you use the acronym more than once in your essay or resume, I suggest you spell everything out.

Busy admissions officers readers don't want to have to remember unfamiliar acronyms (abbreviated words). Keeping track of your arcane acronyms slows them down. Make it easier, not harder, to admit you.

That said, when you must use an acronym multiple times in the same essay, please follow these general guidelines:

Q: HOW AND WHEN DO I USE ABBREVIATED WORDS?

A: Typically, an abbreviation is spelled out at its first instance in an article, followed by the abbreviated form within parentheses; in subsequent instances, only the abbreviation is used. However, this is not compulsory for terms that may be familiar to the intended readers.

For example,

INCORRECT
I work as an engineer for NTT. NTT is Japan's leading telecommunications company.

INCORRECT
I work as an engineer for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation ("NTT"). NTT is Japan's leading telecommunications company.
(You don't need to put an acronym in quotes " ".)

CORRECT
I work as an engineer for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). NTT is Japan's leading telecommunications company.





CORRECT
As my long-term goal, I plan to become CEO of my company.
(CEO is a well-known, universal acronym, so you do not need to spell it out the first time)





Q: SHOULD I USE ACRONYMS IN ADMISSIONS ESSAYS?

A: Please avoid acronyms.

While they are effective in technical reports and internal communications for fellow practitioners, they have no place in admissions essays. Instead, use this opportunity to prove your ability to explain complex, technical information in a way that readers (and future classmates) can understand.



    - Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016






    Saturday, July 1, 2017

    What are the five reasons to use passive voice?

    USE ACTIVE VOICE
    As listed below, there are only 5 reasons one should EVER use passive voice. If you don't need to use passive voice for one of those 5 reason, then you must write active sentences. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Read on, brave writer!





    What is active voice?
    ·       The subject does the action.


    Example of active voice

    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb
    Object

    Sentence
    The group
    will present
    the report
    next week.


    How can you tell if a sentence is active?
    ·       Ask yourself, "Who/What does the action?" If the answer is clear, the sentence is active.
    o   Example: The students tested the samples.
    o   Example: The samples failed.

    Why use active voice?
    ·       Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.





    What is passive voice?
    ·       The passive voice places the emphasis on the action, rather than the actor.  


    Example of passive voice

    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb
    Object

    Sentence
    The report
    will be presented
    by the group
    next week.


    How can you tell if a sentence is passive?
    ·       The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.
    o   Example: The samples were tested.

    Why use passive voice?
    ·       Passive voice is used frequently in technical (and academic) writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.
    ·       Use passive voice for a specific purpose, not simply out of habit.
    ·       In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.




    Exercise

    · Find and circle all examples of passive voice in your paper.
    · Do they fit one of the five reasons bel
    ow?

     

    Five reasons for using the passive voice

     

    1. The 'actor' is not known.
    ·       Oil was discovered off the coast of Australia.
    ·       The number of Internet users was estimated to be over one million.

    2. The 'actor' is not important.
    ·       The report has been published.
    ·       The results will be presented at the conference.

    3. It is considered desirable to conceal the identity of the 'actor'.
    ·       The results are invalid, as the correct testing procedure was not followed.          
    ·       Research funding will be cut next year.

    4. An impersonal tone is needed for academic writing.
    ·       In this report, the stress fields in a C-shape plate will be analyzed.
    An impersonal tone is also used for describing processes.
    ·       First, the raw materials are loaded into a container ...

    5. A tactful tone is needed to smooth over an error or difficulty.
    Compare these two examples.
    ·       Example of passive voice: The samples were not checked at the second stage . . .
    ·       Example of active voice: We forgot to check the samples . . .


    Homework: Find all passive voice sentences that do not fit one of the five reasons. Then, change them into active voice. 

    WHAT IS PASSIVE VOICE?

    Passive voice is used frequently in technical writing, where the focus is usually on what was done rather than who did it. It is conventionally used to report experimental procedure and to avoid constant repetition of I or we throughout the report, paper or thesis.

    In order to use passive voice correctly, it is necessary to fully understand, and be able to recognize, the difference between passive and active voice.





    Active and passive voice

    • The active voice names an 'actor' which/who is the subject of the verb; the actor does the verb.
    Who/What does the verb? 
    • If the answer is clear, the sentence is active. 
    Note that often, there is a direct object (DO) 'receiving' the action.
     
    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb

    Sentence
    The students
    tested
    the samples.

    The samples
    failed.



    Who/What is the verb done to? This is the direct object.

    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb
    Direct Object
    Sentence
    The students
    tested
    the samples.


    Where possible, use the active voice. It is direct, brief, and easy to understand.
    The passive voice places the emphasis on the action rather than the actor. The direct object is placed before the verb, which is given in the passive form. The subject, or actor, is usually not mentioned.


    Example: The samples were tested.

    Formation of the passive

    The passive can use any tense of the verb to be + a past participle

    Subject
    Any tense of the verb to be +
    A past participle
    The load/s
    is/are
    was/were
    calculated.
    The report/s
    has been
    have been
    presented.

    The sample/s
    will be
    can be
    tested.


    The result/s
    is/are being
    (should) have been
    (could) have been

    compared







    Changing passive to active

    To spot passive sentences, look for a form of the verb to be in your sentence, with the actor either missing or introduced after the verb using the word "by":
    • Genetic information is encoded by DNA.
    • The possibility of cold fusion has been examined for many years.

    Try turning each passive sentence you find into an active one. Start your new sentence with the actor. Sometimes you may find that need to do some extra research or thinking to figure out who the actor should be! You will likely find that your new sentence is stronger, shorter, and more precise:

    • DNA encodes genetic information.
    • Physicists have examined the possibility of cold fusion for many years.

    (found at http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/style-and-editing/passive-voice; accessed 2012/04)

    Changing active to passive

    Example of active voice

    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb
    Object

    Sentence
    The group
    will present
    the report
    next week.


    STEP 1: move the object to the subject position
    • The report ...

    STEP 2: change the verb to the passive, making sure that BE takes the same tense as the verb in the active sentence
    • The report will be presented ...

    STEP 3: drop the subject
    • Example of passive voice without the subject: The report will be presented next week.

    or move it to a position after the verb
    • Example of passive voice with the subject: The report will be presented by the group next week.





    Verbs that can't be used in the passive


    Most verbs can be changed from the active to the passive.

    Active voice: We tested the samples. > Passive voice: The samples were tested.

    If the verb can be followed by a direct object (a direct object answers the question who or what after the verb) it can be made passive.

    Part of speech

    Verb
    Direct object
    Sentence

    These difficulties
    may delay
    the completion of the project.


    But the verb occur, for example, cannot take a direct object.

    Part of speech

    Verb
    Indirect object
    Sentence

    A solution

    occurred

    to him.

    This cannot be transformed to the passive since there is no direct object to become the subject.

    Some verbs that can be used only in the active are: occur, rise, happen, arise, fall, exist, consist (of), depend (on),  result (from).

    Active and passive verbs

    Active (correct)
    Passive (incorrect)
    Problems may
    occur
    happen
    arise
    exist
    Problems may be
    occurred
    happened
    arisen
    existed
    They
    consist of
    depend on
    They are

    consist of
    depend on
    Note: 'They are dependent on . . .' is correct since 'dependent' is an adjective.

    A special case:

    Part of speech
    Subject
    Verb
    Object
    Sentence
    They
    lack
    resources.

    Lack can take a direct object but cannot be transformed to the passive: Resources are lacked (incorrect). However, you could write: Resources are lacking.


    Concern and involve

    Concerned about means 'worried about'.  Concerned with means 'involved in'. The passive voice can be used with both meanings. Whether or not they can be used in the passive depends on the meaning.

    To involve has three meanings:
    1. To participate, to take part
    2. To include
    3. To require

    Only the first meaning, to participate, to take part can be used in the passive form.
    • This week, students are involved in lab work.

    The active voice must be used with the second meaning, to include.
    • Example: He often involves his students in his research.

    The active voice must also be used with the third meaning, to require.
    • Example: The project involves buying new software.



    - Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016





    Monday, May 1, 2017

    This... what?


    THIS... WHAT?

    To quote Professor John Cochrane at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, you should clothe the naked “this.”

    “This” should always have something following it. “This example shows that....” is fine. More generally, this rule helps you to avoid an unclear antecedent to the “this.” Often there are three or more things in recent memory that “this” could point to.

    In grammar lexicon, the above issue is often marked as "unclear antecedent."
    Sometimes an antecedent is unclear not because there are multiple nouns that a pronoun may refer to, but because the noun that the pronoun refers to has not been stated. This error is especially common when writers use first-person plural pronouns—we, us, our, and ours—to imply unity between the writer and the readers.

    Identifying and Addressing Unclear Pronouns and Antecedents

    https://writingcommons.org/.../1237-identifying-and-addressing-unclear-pronouns-antec...








    Wednesday, August 24, 2016

    How to write monetary abbreviations in resumes and CVs

    HOW TO WRITE MONETARY ABBREVIATIONS IN RESUMES AND CVs

    Thanks to my AIGAC colleague Laura Freedman, who shared some great advice regarding numerical abbreviations in resumes.

    How to use abbreviated numbers in resumes for international MBA programs and companies

    PREFERRED BY INSEAD (and understood / acceptable at any top MBA program)
    (from the CV self-review style guide INSEAD gives to incoming students)

    Suggested numerical abbreviations:
    • k for 1,000 (thousands)
    • mn for 1,000,000 (millions)
    • bn for 1,000,000,000 (billions)
    • tn for 1,000,000,000,000 (trillions)

    For Indians – avoid lakh and crore. For Japanese – avoid man. These terms suggest you're going to have difficulty adapting to an international corporate environment.

    For currencies - we use currency code, but for major dollar denominations, we prefer US$ and SG$, CN$, AU$ and NZ$. The $ next to the number makes it easier to distinguish the currency from from the number, and is a symbol most people recognise, e.g., US$30k vs. USD30k, or CN$60mn vs. CAD60mn. Note that a common error is USD$ - either D or $ is fine but using both is not.

    For other currencies, I prefer £ and € to EUR and GBP for readability. € is unique to Euro, and £ is dominant enough that nobody is going to mistake the currency for e.g. Cypriot pounds (unless you are from or worked in Cyprus, in which case it's best to use GBP for clarity).

    As a general rule, convert currency amounts to US$, since it's a universally-understood international currency. It's also OK to use the currency for the market you are targeting, recognising that that signals you want to be in that market. Best to avoid other currencies. Most prospective employers (or B-schools) are not going to understand PEN40mn (Peruvian Nuevo Sol), or DZD246mn (Algerian Dinar), for example.

    More tips on how to write numerals here


    - Updated by Vince on Wed 24 Aug 2016