13 Common Editing Tips to Clean Up Your Writing

on 18 October 0 Comment
  1. Add commas after subordinate clauses when they start the sentence. Use a comma after a clause beginning with when, after, because, since, etc. The comma is not used when the subordinate clause follows the independent one.
  2. Remove the serial comma. This style seems more common in an article, blog, Website or casual work, and this rule goes along with AP style. The serial comma is required for a more literary, academic work.
  3. Add commas before coordinating conjunctions. When they join two independent clauses, but not anytime a conjunction is used. This was also a judgment call depending on how long the sentence was.
  4. Clear up what you mean bythis” or “that,” if either of those words are not followed by a noun. If there are three or four nouns in the previous sentence, readers may not know which one “this” or “that” is referring to. This error can be even worse when there is no noun in the previous sentence, and the author intends the pronoun to refer to the concept in the entire sentence. It’s just not clear. Rework, please.
  5. Remove repetitive words. Try not to use the same words in the same sentence if possible, even successive sentences—especially words like all. Once is enough.
  6. Use one space after periods. Two is antiquated, according to many sources.
  7. Remove apostrophes when you just need a plural. Often times, only an “s” is necessary. Years are among the worst offender. Before 2015,  the Royals last won the World Series in the 1980s. 
  8. Include thatwhen it is necessary. I add it often in written work. That needs to introduce a restrictive clause when the crucial to the meaning of a sentence. When the information is just descriptive, use which. If you use which, proceed it by a comma. 
  9. Limit use of an “ing” tense. For example, I often read the phrase when graduating. Graduating is an act that lasts for about three hours. Reserve that tense for when an action is ongoing, not a one time event. As I was studying in college (during a four year period), is a more appropriate use of this tense.
  10. Set off states and years in body text with commas if the sentence continues with commas.
  11. Use em dashes. When dashes are used as a pause in a sentence, then need to be “em” dashes, which are longer.
  12. Employ more precise preposition and conjunction use—over is best used in relation to the another item, like I am flying over the city. Otherwise, during is better.Of is often used when about is really what is meant. An example is: “We talked of pets for hours” is really better said as “We talked about pets for hours.”Since is best use with an element of time. Otherwise, if you mean the reason why, because is more precise. Because is also the better choice than due to, which is best reserved for money owed.
  13. Use toward instead of towards, and afterward instead of afterwards (the s is added in British English, but without the s is considered correct in American English).
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