ClearTips: Edit yourself

What Editors Look For

1. Fat
Superfluous nouns
Superfluous verbs
Superfluous nouns and prepositions
The opening It
The opening There
Overweight prepositions
Weak modifiers

2. The Better Word
What to prefer
       Prefer short words to long
       Prefer concrete words to abstract
       Prefer specific words to general
       Prefer everyday language to jargon
       Prefer singular nouns to plural
       Prefer words to symbols, initials, and abbreviations
       Prefer American words and phrases to foreign
       Prefer familiar words to unfamiliar
What to avoid
       Avoid contractions
       Avoid ugly words ending in -wise and -ize
       Avoid overused phrases (and fad words and slang)
What else to watch
       Watch prepositions
       Watch seeming synonyms

3. Pronoun References
Ambiguous pronouns
Distant pronouns
Premature pronouns
Vague pronouns
Illogical pronouns

4. Order in the Sentence
Count the syllables
Count the words
Put compound elements last
       Use the obvious sequence or chronology
       Avoid unintended modifiers
       Use the familiar or explicit order

5. Shorter Sentences
Break a long sentence into two or more sentences
Cut unnecessary phrases and clauses
Judicious rearrangement and punctuation

6. Dangling Constructions
Other parts

7. Abused Relatives
Punctuate nonrestrictive clauses
Watch clauses that do not follow the noun they modify
       Make the object of the prepositional phrase plural and rely on verb number
       Repeat the noun before a restrictive clause
       Delete the intervening prepositional phrase
       Rewrite the sentence
Avoid hopscotching between that and which
Avoid too many that's, which's, and who's
       Cut out that is and that are (and who is and who are)
       Cut out which is and which are (and who is and who are)
       Cut out unimportant nonrestrictive clauses
       Raise the nonrestrictive clause to a main or subordinate clause

8. The Active Voice
Switching from passive voice to active
       Transpose the subject and the object
       Give the sentence an active subject
When to use the passive voice
       If the actor should be left out
       If what is acted on is the subject of the paragraph

9. Parallel Constructions
Parallelism with coordinating conjunctions
Parallelism with correlative conjunctions

10. Consistency
       Words with two or more acceptable spellings
       Different words serving one function
       Latin plurals
Open, solid, and hyphenated terms
       Compound nouns
       Compound adjectives
Symbols and abbreviations
       Abbreviations of unit
       Abbreviations of Latin terms
       Other abbreviations

11. Basic Tools
Style sheet
Sample style sheet

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