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  • Jennifer Rubio

How hairy is your dinosaur?

Today I am editing resumes. Resumes are tricky beasts because they try to cram as much information as posible into as little space as possible. What ends up happening are sentence constructions like the following:

As a leader on the project team, Jane Smith was responsible for planning and development of the program, researching and implementing best practices for successful outcomes, data collection and analysis on the pilot program, subsequent wider implementation, and outcomes at conclusion of the pilot and after a six-month follow-up.

Notice anything missing in this sentence?

It's hard to tell, right? There's so much going on -- so much hair on this dinosaur -- that it is difficult to look at the dinosaur bones and see if they are well constructed. So let's break the sentence down.

I'm not diagramming this all the way, but I am breaking it down into its major parts.

Look about right? Now that we have it diagrammed, we can tell at a glance where our dinosaur bones are and what's just hair.

It breaks down pretty neatly by vertical column. The spine of the dinosaur is its main clause "Jane Smith was responsible." (In hindsight, I should have put the "for" in its own box, but I'm dealing in broad strokes here.)

So let's shave off all that hair and just look at our bones!

"As a leader on the project team, Jane Smith was responsible for planning and development, researching and implementing, data collection and analysis."

Still don't see what's missing? Let's simplify it further.

"Jane Smith was responsible for A, B, C."

Aha! We're missing an and!

So going back to our sentence, the way to correct it is:

As a leader on the project team, Jane Smith was responsible for planning and development of the program, researching and implementing best practices for successful outcomes, AND data collection and analysis on the pilot program, subsequent wider implementation, and outcomes at conclusion of the pilot and after a six-month follow-up.

If you've got a hairy dinosaur like this in your work (and we all do), trust an experienced paleontologist -- in this case, a really good copy editor -- to break it down to the bones and put it back together right.

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