Using Old / New Information Order in a Sentence

If you want to make information clear to your reader, it is often useful to use the following structure:

  • the old (or known) information is placed at the beginning of the sentence
  • the new (or unknown) information is placed at the end of the sentence.

Example 1

Populations of co-existing, closely related, but diverging variants of HCV RNA molecules (Old information) are termed qausispecies (new information). Quasispecies (old information) occur in many RNA viruses (new information).

Example 2

This example shows how the old/new information structure works over a whole paragraph, and has a table that identifies the old and new information in each sentence.

Antibiotic resistant microorganisms have significantly compromised antibiotic treatment. A large proportion of resistance in Gram-negative bacteria can be attributed to resistance gene cassettes contained within a site-specific recombination system, termed the integron. Mobile cassettes contain genes that confer resistance to nearly every major class of antibiotic, and some disinfectants. New gene cassettes continue to be identified and the sequences of over 60 cassettes are deposited in the GenBank/EMBL databases, as of January 2001. This rapid increase in the identification of gene cassettes has led to the same name being given to two different gene cassettes, or the incorrect naming of gene cassettes. This letter aims to clarify the current nomenclature for the aadA and dfr families of genes.”  (White 2007)

Table of old and new information

Old InformationNew Information
Antibiotic resistant microorganismsantibiotic treatment
A large proportion of resistance in Gram-negative bacteriaresistance gene cassettes contained within a site-specific recombination system, termed the integron.
Mobile cassettesgenes
thatresistance to nearly every major class of antibiotic, and some disinfectants
New gene cassettes 
the sequences of over 60 cassettesthe GenBank/EMBL databases
This rapid increase in the identification of gene cassettesthe same name being given to two different gene cassettes, or the incorrect naming of gene cassettes
This letterthe current nomenclature for the aadA and dfr families of genes

Exercise: Practice using old / new information