References & Resources for “Ask Dr. Editor: How can I become a better editor of my own work?” – ACOTUP, October 2021

In my land acknowledgement, the article that I asked you to read is “Opinion: I was Brian Sinclair’s doctor. I understand how our health care system failed him.”

The monthly column that I write for University Affairs is called Ask Dr. Editor. Please feel free to send me a question!

Step 1: Count Wordsworth – set the baseline

Step 2: HemingwayApp – look at your use of the passive voice

Step 3: The Writer’s Diet – seek out clusters of prepositions and of both “to be” verbs and zombie nouns

Step 4: Your Actual Human Brain – use it! set your writing in an unfamiliar font, space it weirdly, and then dig into the content.

Step 5: Count Wordsworth again – compare to your baseline and to the best in your discipline

Resources recommended in today’s webinar include:

  • The Writer’s Diet: A Guide to Fit Prose by Helen Sword will help you to make changes based on the results of their “test.” Unfortunately, the governing metaphor of this book is a body-shaming metaphor. The writer’s diet test is nonetheless useful and Sword is good on academic writing.
  • Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams is a wonderful resource. Look for older editions for a lower cost. One resource for used book stores online is; however, abebooks is owned by Amazon, so if you are the kind of person who refuses to use Amazon, then abebooks might not be the resource for you.
  • The article that talks about the average sentence length in top medical journals is Barbic, Skye P., et al. “Readability assessment of psychiatry journals.” Measurement 24 (2013): 26-35. I also wrote about sentence length in my blog post “25 words.

Was I unable to answer your question during today’s webinar? Please get in touch. I’d be happy to chat.