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A.

  1. Please follow the instructions below for a sample of what the profile looks like on their official website.

  2. Please follow the instructions below for a sample of the profile as displayed on their official website.

B.

  1. A short biography that can be easily rearranged into the desired format which can be accessed to by following the steps below:

  2. A short biography that can be easily rearranged into the desired format as laid out by following the steps below:

Please SEPARATELY comment on the structure/syntax/style of the two sets of statements above. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • There's nothing wrong with the syntax (other than "accessed to by" which s/b "accessed by"). And this is not the right forum to discuss style. but are you thinking that each pair represnts two ways to say the same thing? Do you wonder whether they mean the same? If so, it's a question of semantics, not of syntax or style—and the answer is NO. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 31 '15 at 8:40
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A. There is something missing from both sentences. The phrase "Please follow the instructions below..." is an imperative to the reader, which sets up an expectation that you will explain the purpose or what will happen or what the reader will achieve by following these instructions. Instead, you follow with "...for a sample of...", which lacks any reference to the reader.

I suggest something like the following:

"Please follow these instructions in order to generate a sample of this profile as it might appear on their official website."

or

"Please follow these instructions in order to see how this profile might appear on their official website."

Notice that I added the qualifier "might". I assume that you are not instructing the reader to produce the official website, itself, but instead you are instructing them to produce something that looks like the official web site, in most respects. But it might not look like it exactly. If you are confident that the appearance will be identical, then you could use "...will..." instead of "...might...".

B. These two sentences might be saying different things regarding how the biography format can be changed ("rearranged"). For this answer, I assume that the "steps" describe how the reader can change ("rearrange") the format of biography.

I suggest the following:

"Please provide a short biography. Your biography will be converted to a format with the following structure: ..."


NOTE: I'm using active forms that speak directly to the reader (e.g. "Here is..." and "If you need..."). Not everyone is comfortable with this writing style, even though there is evidence that it leads to more effective communication.

  • I am grateful for your detailed explanation. "Please follow these instructions in order to see how this profile might appear on their official website" is exactly what I wanted to express in A. – Barbara Wang Aug 4 '15 at 8:40
  • As luck would have it, however, what I intended to say in B is a bit ambiguous, which has led to some misunderstanding on your part. With a bit more context, I hoped the reader could provide me with a short bio that, by simple rearranging, can be rendered in the desired format. And such format can be viewed by following the steps below: a) ...; b) ...; c)...; and d).... My concern is that whether my thought can be clarified using a single statement or two separate sentences. Please kindly help. Thank you! – Barbara Wang Aug 4 '15 at 8:43
  • @BarbaraWang Thanks for clarifying. I rewrote my recommendation for B. I hope this helps. – MrMeritology Aug 5 '15 at 4:59
  • @ MrMeritology Thank you for rewriting. You are absolutely right that active forms lead to more effective communication. And I like it. Appreciate your help. =) – Barbara Wang Aug 5 '15 at 7:51

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