As editor of several technical publications, it falls on me to edit the papers of my children. This morning, I made these notes for my daughter as I edited her first paper in the new school year:
Things to keep in mind when you write papers (print this out for your reference):
* Avoid the following words, since they are meaningless:
- 'various' and 'actually' (vague words of no meaning)
- 'many different' (use 'many' or 'different' but not both)
- 'very' (leaving it out gives a stronger sense)
- 'also' (often misused as the next step, rather than as another example)
- 'able to' ("I was able to learn" can become "I learned")
* The first time you mention a place or thing, use the full name; subsequently, you can use a shortened version:
- Trinity = Trinity Western University
* Minimize the use of 'I' and 'me':
- "My classes" can become "The classes"
* If you use "they" to avoid male/female (he, she), then make sure references are also plural:
- "a teacher" does not work with "they"; must be "teachers"
* As much as possible, write in the present tense (can take some getting used to!); use past and future tenses only for events that do take place then.
* Use "so" and "then" to guide the reader to your conclusion:
- 'and so' = the result from the previous statement
- 'and then' = the next step, from the previous statement
* Spell out numbers from zero to ten:
- 'three', not '3'
* Watch these:
- 'Between' is between two people or things; 'among' is among more than two.
- 'less' is for a singular item, such as "less air."
- 'fewer' is for plural items, such as "fewer people."
- 'which' for singular, 'that' for plural
* Every so often, reverse clauses. Reverse clauses every so often.
* Avoid starting sentences with 'Because' or 'But"; reserve them for when you need to emphasize a change.
* Avoid 'have', as in "have learned"; "learned" is sufficient.