Do you understand this sentence?
The causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, proliferates within host macrophages where it modifies both its intracellular and local tissue environment, resulting in caseous granulomas with incomplete bacterial sterilization.*
No? Well, how about this one?
Ancillary cytologic tests including digital image analysis (DIA) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) have been developed to improve the sensitivity of routine cytology (RC) for the diagnosis of malignancy in pancreatobiliary strictures.**
Really? Well, let’s try this:
Yesterday, I downloaded a twitter app, inserted a widget code into my blog, had two trackback pings and received several diggs on my post.
Ahh, good. Looks like I finally wrote a sentence full of words you understand. Your face muscles aren’t so scrunched up now and your eyes are uncrossed.
Now, let’s take this further. What do you think would happen if I visited a local ice cream shop and randomly asked people if they understand this same blog-focused sentence? I’d say a significant percentage of the sweet-lovers would be quite confused and probably tell me to leave them alone so they can eat their cherry-pistachio-bubble-gum-mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cone in peace.
Obviously, the words we use to communicate are very important. Every field or industry tends to develop its own unique vocabulary and learning these new words and definitions is a major part of learning any new topic.
Some blogs focus on readers who already know and understand a topic well, so it’s perfectly appropriate to use the unique vocabulary readily and without thinking about it much. The first two vocabulary-loaded sentences are examples of such sites.
In many cases, however, a blog’s intent is to attract readers who are not so knowledgeable about the topic. Developing and maintaining an awareness of the vocabulary unique to your topic can help you write easily understandable blog posts.
If you want to reach out to readers unfamiliar with your topic, take care to explain your points in a clear and understandable manner, keeping an eye out for unique vocabulary words. This can sometimes be harder than you think because once you gain expertise and feel comfortable with a topic, it’s easy to lose awareness of the unique vocabulary.
You may want to develop a glossary for your blog. A glossary is simply a list of your topic’s vocabulary words and their definitions.
Here are a few tips to help you create a glossary:
- Put yourself in the place of a new reader; mentally go back to a time when you were basically ignorant about your topic.
- Read several of your blog posts as if you were one of these readers.
- Compile a list of words you use often that are generally unknown and specific to your topic.
- Create definitions for these words. (I recommend you define the terms in your own words because it will help develop your general ability to explain your topic clearly.)
Now that you have a nice glossary for your blog, what do you do with it? You might want to write a single glossary blog entry and give the post its own page. I’m also wondering if there might be applications and codes available that would automatically highlight specific words every time they are used in your posts. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen pop-up balloons displaying a definition when the mouse hovers over a highlighted word. This would be a great if it’s possible. Does anyone know anything about such options?
In the end, readers have many online sources they can visit to find definitions of the unique vocabulary words you use often to explain your topic, but doesn’t it makes sense to give them the ability to learn the vocabulary while reading your blog?