Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the tag “health writing”

Active voice, passive voice — what’s the difference?

Active and passive voice - what's the difference?

Remember back in school when you learnt about the different ‘voices’ in your writing?

No? Active voice and passive voice?

Still nothing?

Well that’s okay. This blog post will explain all you need to know about active and passive voice, and when you should use each voice.

 

The difference between active and passive voice

In its simplest terms, active voice occurs when the subject of the sentence (or performer) is performing the action. For example:

Tom loves Jess. Tom (the subject) is performing the act of loving.

Passive voice is when the subject receives the action. For example:

Jessica is loved by Tom. Jessica (the subject) is receiving Tom’s love.

 

 Using the active voice

It is generally recommended to use active voice when writing. Active voice is clearer and more succinct. It clearly identifies the action and who or what is performing the action. It is stronger, and enables us to communicate our message more effectively. It also can be used to point the reader in a particular direction

Active voice has a kind of energy that passive voice lacks. It is the perfect choice in business writing — particularly when using a ‘call to action’ (e.g. ‘Call us now!’). And it is usually the choice for creative writing.

 

Using passive voice

While passive voice is often wordier than active voice, it is useful to use it in certain situations. For example, health writing often use the passive voice, because the ‘performer’ is less important than the action.

e.g. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables.

While using active voice in scientific writing is sometimes preferable, passive voice is useful because it is considered inappropriate for scientists to insert themselves into the paper.

e.g. The subjects were tested instead of We tested the subjects.

Passive voice is also used when the performer is unknown, irrelevant or obvious.

e.g. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer.

It is also useful when hedging around a topic. You will notice that police officers, managers and politicians often use passive voice when they don’t want to, or are unable to identify the person who has performed the action.

e.g. Mistakes were made and the procedures were misinterpreted.

 

How to recognise passive voice

As we have seen, using passive voice is not wrong. However, active voice is preferable in most cases. To determine if your writing is passive, look out for the following tell-tale words:

  • be
  • is
  • are
  • a
  • was
  • were
  • has been
  • have been
  • will be

If any of these words appear, then you have written a passive sentence.

 

Changing from passive to active

Active sentences follow a logical order:

i.e. doer of action (performer) + action + receiver of action

To change a passive sentence into an active one, simply:

  1. begin the sentence with the doer of the action
  2. make the verb active
  3. put the receiver of the action after the active verb

e.g.                                        

The novel The Power of One was written by Bryce Courtenay (passive)

 CHANGES TO:

 Bryce Courtenay wrote The Power of One.

  

Final tips

Remember, passive voice has its place in writing too and in some instances if preferable. The type of voice you use in your writing will depend upon what you’re writing, who the audience is, and what the aim of your communication is.

But if you want your message to be snappy and clearly understood, always choose an active voice.

If you need help deciphering active and passive sentences, or just don’t want the bother of doing it at all, please contact me.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

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FREE: Reference material to help you write health content

FREE list of health referencesIn previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of building credibility as a writer and given you tips on how to develop content for your health blogs.

In this post, we’re going to share with you some important reference material that will help you write your health content, and build your credibility.

Why use references?

Referencing is vital when it comes to health writing — or any factual type of writing. There are millions of health-related websites and blogs out there, with many of them offering conflicting advice and information. What’s worse, is that the majority of health information (from what I have seen), is not referenced appropriately.

Referencing is important for several reasons:

  • It ensures the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date
  • It reassures the reader that you are providing them with accurate information
  • It helps build your credibility as a writer
  • It helps gain trust from your target audience
  • It enables your reader to go to the source of the information for further detail.

How to reference

We will talk in more detail on how to reference information in a future blog post. However, when you do reference material, it’s important to quote the original source of the information, rather than make a general statement.

For example, writing, “According to the Heart Foundation, more than 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013” is preferable to: “Over 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013”.

When it comes to referencing research studies, simply saying “a study found x,y and z” is not enough. You need to quote the actual study and provide a link to the original study. For example, “a 2010 study by Harvard University, published in Some Journal, found x, y and z” (Reference, detailing the authors, title of study and where it was published should be provided in text or as a footnote, along with a link to the study).

What to reference

There are some definite DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to referencing. Two of the biggest are:

DO use credible reference sources, such as official organisations, peak bodies and accredited government agencies.

(NOTE: Wikipedia is NOT a credible source of information)

DON’T quote information from other articles, particularly if they have not used references.

So where should you go for credible information?

Well, you’re in luck, because here is my list of top places where I source my health information.

FREE list of resources

GLOBAL

 INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIAN

Peak bodies

Australian Government Websites

Remember, referencing is critical if you are writing for the health and wellness sector, so always make sure you use credible and reputable institutions and organisations when doing your research.

If you would like help writing your blog or health and wellness content, check out the great variety of Blogging Business Packages we have available. Or, you can simply contact us to have a chat about your needs.

We’d love to hear from you.

Until next time

Nerissa

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