Editing Strategy: Think...

The overall tone of a document can enhance or destroy it.

The example below was written by the Dean of Students at a prestigious university, advising professors of the unfortunate death of a student.  Everything is correct, technically speaking, except the resulting tone.

To all instructors of Mary Smith:

This is to inform you of the death of Mary Smith

Editing Strategy: Avoid...

Some sentences have so many thoughts jammed into them that they are impossible for readers to understand.  Readers like variety in sentence length–some long, some short, some medium.  If writers cut long sentences down into two or three shorter ones or combine a short sentence with a long one, they will make their readers happy.  Variety works.…

Editing Strategy: Avoid...

When a well-worn phrase was first invented, it caught on because people liked it.  But after a while, the phrase becomes a cliche and loses its meaning.  Think of hackneyed phrases everyone overuses, such as good as gold, beyond a shadow of a doubt, acid test, being caught red-handed, have a bone to pick, keep a stiff upper lip, have

Editing Strategy: Use P...

Professionals in specialized fields often make the mistake of thinking that only their specialized language can express their thoughts.  This is usually not true.  Read this jargonized version of a famous line of American poetry.  Although the writer is agile in using jargon, she lost both the meaning and poetic form here:

If I were to ascertain the reasons for

Editing Strategy: Avoid...

Some phrases used in writing are redundant by definition, such as baby kittens.  What else is a kitten but a baby?  Edit sentences to remove redundancies.  For example, is something absolutely essential or just essential?

The following sentence has redundant phrases galore:  The annual per capita expenditure is $2400 per employee, per year.  Try this approach:  cut the …