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Style in writing copy

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  • 1. Karen S. Wright
  • 2. Cut repetition and wordiness The Lincoln Library contains many rare books. The WORDY books in the library are carefully preserved. The library also houses a manuscript collection.The Lincoln Library carefully preserves many BETTERrare books and manuscripts.
  • 3. Cut Formulaic Phrases Formulaic Concise• at the present time • now• at this point in time• in this day in age• because of the fact • because• due to the fact• are of the opinion • believe• have the ability to • can• in spite of the fact • although, despite• last but not least • finally• prior to • before• concerning the matter • of about
  • 4. Cut References to Your IntentionsIn the humanities, readers want to READ about yourtopic and are not interested in explanations of yourorganization of your text and your own planning. Forexample:In this essay, I intend to prove. . . Inthe next few paragraphs I hope to show. . Inconclusion, I have demonstrated. . . What Iwant to say here is . . .
  • 5. Cut Redundant Words orPhrasesTrim words that repeat an idea expressed byanother word in the same phrase: true facts circle around cooperate together refer back free gift consensus of opinion
  • 6. As a general rule, use vigorous sentences withvivid, expressive verbs. Avoid bland verbs of theverb BE (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been)or verbs in the passive voice. Dead Verbs
  • 7. Ask “Who’s Doing What?” About Subject and Verb Let the subject of the sentence perform the action, and use expressive verbs. The mayor’s approval of the new law Too was due to voters’ suspicion of the WORD concealment of campaign funds by his Y deputy.This sentence contains three abstract nouns(approval, suspicion, and concealment) formedfrom verbs (approve, suspect, and conceal) aswell as five prepositional phrases: of the new law,to voters’ suspicion, of the concealment, ofcampaign funds, and by his deputy.
  • 8. To revise the previous sentence, ask, who’s doing what? Who’s Doing What? Subject Verb the mayor approved the voters suspected his deputy had concealedThe mayor approved the new law because voterssuspected that his deputy had concealed campaignfunds.
  • 9. Try Not to Begin Sentences with There or ItFor a lean, direct style, rewrite sentencesin which there or it occupies the subjectposition (as in there is, there were, it is, itwas). Revise by using action verbs andsubjects that perform the action.There was a discussion of the healthcare system by the politicians. [Who’sdoing what?]The politicians discussed the healthcare system.
  • 10. Avoid PAssive voiceThe passive voice tells what is done to thegrammatical subject of a clause (The turkeywas cooked too long by Matilda.) Extensiveuse of the passive voice makes your writingdull and wordy. When you can, replace it withactive voice verbs. The problem will be discussed passive thoroughly by the committee.active The committee will discuss the problem thoroughly.
  • 11. Put New Information at the End of a Sentence for Emphasis.Memoirs are becoming increasingly popular. Readersof all ages are finding them appealing. JARRINGSHIFTMemoirs are becoming increasingly popular. Theyappeal to readers of all ages. TOPIC CHAINIn the revised version, the subject of the second sentence, they,refers to the subject of the previous sentence, memoirs; the newinformation of “readers of all ages” comes at the end where itreceives more emphasis.
  • 12. Put New Information at the End of a Sentence for Emphasis. If you have a topic of old information, new information will come at the end of the sentence to end on a strong, interesting note, one you will want to emphasize. This technique keep the flow of ideas moving smoothly. Don’t let a sentence be weak. Women often feel silenced by men, weak according to one researcher. According to one researcher, women oftenrevised feel silenced by men.
  • 13. Readers of academic prose in English usually expectwriters to analyzeand question their sources, to commit to an informedand interestingpoint of view, and to provide convincing reasons why that view is valid. Forwriters, commitment means. . . to research to assume a critical stance to take a position
  • 14. Commit to Critical ThinkingCritical thinking does not mean criticizing negatively. Itmeans examining and analyzing information with anopen mind. Critical thinking is an essential first step.Do not assume because something is in print that it isaccurate.Develop a system of inquiry: ask questions, reflect onthe position of the authors you read, consider statementsthat point out an alternative view.When you think critically, your writing takes on yourown voice. It becomes a reflection of your own thinkingrather than a regurgitation of others’ opinions.
  • 15. Commit to a Point of ViewYour background reading, critical reading, anddrafting will help you discover and decide upon aperspective and thesis. Once you have made thosedecisions, COMMIT to that point of view.Avoid ambivalence and indecisiveness inlanguage: maybe, perhaps, it could be, it mightseem.Aim for language of commitment: as a result,consequently, of course, demand, should, must.Use language of commitment, however, only afterthoroughly researching your topic and satisfyingyourself that the evidence is convincing.
  • 16. Commit to a Confident StanceConvey to the reader an attitude of confidence in yourown abilities and judgment. Readers WILL NOT beimpressed by apologies. One student ended an essaythis way: I hope I have conveyed something of interestabout this author. I would like my reader to notethat this is just my point of view, even if a uniqueone.If you really have not done an adequate job of makingand supporting a point, try to gather more informationto improve the paper instead of adding apologeticnotes.
  • 17. Word choice, or diction, contributes a great deal to theeffect your writing has on your readers. Do not givereaders puzzles to solve. •Use a dictionary and thesaurus •Monitor tone child: kid, offspring, progeny friend: pal, buddy, chum, mate jail: slammer, cooler, prison angry: ticked off, furious, mad, fuming
  • 18. choose Your WordsUse figurative language for effect, but use itsparingly. Simile: an explicit comparison with both sides stated. America is not like a blanket. Metaphor: an implied comparison, without like or as A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • 19. Avoid Biased and Exclusionary LanguageAvoid Useactress actorchairman chairpersonforefathers ancestorsforeman supervisormailman mail carriermankind humanitypoliceman, policewoman police officersalesman salesclerk