#AskDrEditor: Simple tricks to add clarity in complex sentences

My editing advice column, Ask Dr. Editor, is available through UniversityAffairs.ca. This Ask Dr. Editor explains why starting your sentence with the word “this” can creative unnecessary ambiguity, and provides a straightforward fix: “Simple tricks to add clarity in complex sentences: The criticism that some academic writing can be difficult to read shouldn’t be ignored.”Continue reading “#AskDrEditor: Simple tricks to add clarity in complex sentences”

#AskDrEditor: Your Reader is a Little Bit Drunk

My editing advice column, Ask Dr. Editor, is now available through UniversityAffairs.ca. The second Ask Dr. Editor question comes from a faculty member who isn’t sure how to advise her trainees as they write their job application materials. Have a question you want me to answer? Contact me or ask me on Twitter at @lertitia.

Making paragraphs flow

We all know that good paragraphs cohere around a single topic and are book-ended by strong, analytical take-away sentences. But how can a disjointed, staccato-sounding paragraph be made to have flow? Flow is an elusive quality — it’s the sense that sentences move logically and seamlessly without repetition or heavy-handed transitioning. Sometimes this flow comesContinue reading “Making paragraphs flow”

Words to watch for: zombie nouns

“The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.” In her New York Times essay, the academic and writer Helen Sword terms “nominalizations” — that is, nouns that contains within them shorter verbs, adjectives, or other nouns — “zombie nouns” because they “cannibalize active verbs,Continue reading “Words to watch for: zombie nouns”

Cut “is”

This is a writing problem that is easy to correct. (10 words) This writing problem is easy to correct. (7 words) When editing your draft, search for the word “is.” In the two sentences above, searching for “is” and rephrasing the sentence enabled the writer to cut 30% of the original word count without losingContinue reading “Cut “is””