General Writing Concerns

One of the harder parts of writing is getting started. • Planning: thought starters, invention/planning and when you start to write. • When you're ready to make an outline, look at the material on developing an outline and then a sample outline. • Some qualities that are important in writing include adding emphasis, making your writing concise, and making it coherent. You can practice being concise in the conciseness exercise. • Transitions will make your writing smoother and less choppy, and you'll need to think about using nonsexist language as well. • Knowing how to write definitions and descriptions is also important for many forms of writing. • If you have trouble with writer's block or find yourself anxious about an assignment, you'll find helpful advice in coping with writing anxiety and overcoming writer's block. • Writing research papers requires knowing how to paraphrase, and there's a paraphrasing exercise to practice on and answers to the exercise too. You'll want to be sure you also know the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. • Be sure to check out some advice on using quotation marks and perhaps even try the exercise in quotation marks and italics as well. • Since there are other matters to think about when writing a research paper, look at the materials in the section on research paper writing/citing sources too. • Finally, when your writing is just about ready to be read by others, be sure as a last step to proofread. You'll find help with this important final step in steps in editing (proofreading) your papers, proofreading strategies, proof reading, editing, and revising, and proofreading your paper. If you need help prioritizing your proofreading and revising, see Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) and Lower Order Concerns (LOCs). Starting to Write You can try the text book formula: I. State your thesis. II. Write an outline. III. Write the first draft. IV. Revise and polish ...but that often doesn't work! Instead, you can try one or more of these strategies: Ask Yourself What Your Purpose is for Writing About the Subject. There are many "correct" things to write about any subject, but you need to narrow down your choices. For example, your topic might be "mess food." At this point, you

and your potential reader are asking the same question, "So what?" Why should you write about this, and why should anyone read it? ♦ Do you want the reader to pity you because of the intolerable food you have to eat there? ♦ Do you want to analyze large-scale institutional cooking? ♦ Do you want to compare college's mess to that served at Indiana U.? Ask Yourself How You are Going to Achieve This Purpose How, for example, would you achieve your purpose if you want to describe some movie as the best you've ever seen? Have you defined for yourself a specific means of doing so if you tell the reader that you really liked the movie?
START THE IDEAS FLOWING

Brainstorm. Gather as many good and bad ideas, suggestions, examples, sentences, false starts, etc. as you can. Perhaps some friends can join in. Jot down everything that comes to mind, including material you are sure you will throw out. Be ready to keep adding to the list at odd moments as ideas continue to come to mind. Talk to your audience, or pretend that you are being interviewed by someone-- or by several people, if possible (to give yourself the opportunity of considering a subject from several different points of view). What questions would the other person ask? Try, instead, to teach the subject to a group or a class. See if you can find a fresh analogy that opens up a new set of ideas. Build your analogy by using the word "like." For example, if you are writing about violence on television, is that violence like clowns fighting in a carnival act (that is, we know that no one really is getting hurt)? Take a Rest And Let it All Percolate Nutshell Your Whole Idea Tell it to someone in three or four sentences. Diagram Your Major Points Somehow Make a tree, outline, or whatever helps you to see a schematic of what you have. You may discover the need for more material in some places. WRITE A FIRST DRAFT

Then, if possible, put it away. Later, read it aloud or to yourself as if you were someone else. Watch especially for the need to clarify or add more information. ♦ You may find yourself jumping back and forth between these various strategies... ♦ ♦ You may find that one strategy works better than another. You may find yourself trying several strategies at once.

If so, then you are probably doing something right! Planning (Invention) "A writer keeps surprising himself... he doesn't know what he is saying until he sees it on the page." -- Thomas Williams When you sit down to write... -

Does your mind turn blank? Are you sure you have nothing to say?

If so, you're not alone! Everyone experiences this at some time or other, but some people have strategies or techniques to get them started. When you are planning to write something, try some of the following suggestions. EXPLORE the problem -- not the topic • • • Who is your reader? What is your purpose? Who are you, the writer? (What image or persona do you want to project?)

MAKE your goals operational • • How can you achieve your purpose? Can you make a plan?

GENERATE some ideas 1. Brainstorm - keep writing - don't censor or evaluate - keep returning to the problem

2. Talk to your reader - What questions would they ask? - What different kinds of readers might you have? 3. Ask yourself questions A. Journalistic questions • Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? So What? B. Classical topics (patterns of argument) Definition How does the dictionary define ____? What do I mean by ____? What group of things does ____ belong to? How is ____ different from other things? What parts can ____ be divided into? Does ____ mean something now that it didn't years ago? If so, what? What other words mean about the same as ____? What are some concrete examples of ____? When is the meaning of ____ misunderstood? Comparison/Contrast What is ____ similar to? In what ways? What is ____ different from? In what ways? ____ is superior (inferior) to what? How? ____ is most unlike (like) what? How? Relationship What causes ____? What are the effects of ____? What is the purpose of ____? What is the consequence of ____? What comes before (after) ____? Testimony What have I heard people say about ____? What are some facts of statistics about ____? Can I quote any proverbs, poems, or sayings about ____? Are there any laws about ____? Circumstance Is ____ possible or impossible? What qualities, conditions, or circumstances make ____ possible or impossible? When did ____ happen previously? Who can do ____? If ____ starts, what makes it end? What would it take for ____ to happen now? What would prevent ___ from happening? C. Tagmemics

Contrastive features How is ____ different from things similar to it? How has ____ been different for me? Variation How much can ____ change and still be itself? How is ____ changing? How much does ____ change from day to day? What are the different varieties of ____? Distribution Where and when does ____ take place? What is the larger thing of which ___ is a part? What is the function of ____ in this larger thing? D. Cubing (considering a subject from six points of view) 1. *Describe* it (colors, shapes, sizes, etc.) 2. *Compare* it (What is it similar to?) 3. *Associate* it (What does it make you think of?) 4. *Analyze* it (Tell how it's made) 5. *Apply* it (What can you do with it? How can it be used?) 6. *Argue* for or against it E. Make an analogy Choose an activity from column A to explain it by describing it in terms of an activity from column B (or vice-versa). A -----------playing cards changing a tire selling walking sailing skiing plowing launching rockets running for office hunting Russian roulette brushing teeth B --------------writing essays growing up growing old rising in the world studying meditating swindling teaching learning failing quarreling making peace

REST AND INCUBATE! Planning (Invention): When you start to write I. State your thesis. II. Write an outline. III. Write the first draft. IV. Revise and polish. . . . but that often doesn't work! Instead, you can try one or more of these strategies: Ask yourself what your purpose is for writing about the subject. There are many "correct" things to write about for any subject, but you need to narrow down your choices. For example, your topic might be "dorm food." At this point, you and your potential reader are asking the same question, "So what?" Why should you write about this, and why should anyone read it? Do you want the reader to pity you because of the intolerable food you have to eat there? Do you want to analyze large-scale institutional cooking? Do you want to compare Purdue's dorm food to that served at Indiana University?

Ask yourself how you are going to achieve this purpose. How, for example, would you achieve your purpose if you wanted to describe some movie as the best you've ever seen? Would you define for yourself a specific means of doing so? Would your comments on the movie go beyond merely telling the reader that you really liked it?

Start the ideas flowing Brainstorm. Gather as many good and bad ideas, suggestions, examples, sentences, false starts, etc. as you can. Perhaps some friends can join in. Jot down everything that comes to mind, including material you are sure you will throw out. Be ready to keep adding to the list at odd moments as ideas continue to come to mind. Talk to your audience, or pretend that you are being interviewed by someone -- or by several people, if possible (to give yourself the opportunity of considering a subject from several different points of view). What questions would the other person ask? You might also try to teach the subject to a group or class. See if you can find a fresh analogy that opens up a new set of ideas. Build your analogy by using the word like. For example, if you are writing about violence on television, is that violence like clowns fighting in a carnival act (that is, we know that no one is really getting hurt)?

Take a rest and let it all percolate. Nutshell your whole idea. Tell it to someone in three or four sentences. Diagram your major points somehow. Make a tree, outline, or whatever helps you to see a schematic representation of what you have. You may discover the need for more material in some places. Write a first draft. Then, if possible, put it away. Later, read it aloud or to yourself as if you were someone else. Watch especially for the need to clarify or add more information. You may find yourself jumping back and forth among these various strategies. You may find that one works better than another. You may find yourself trying several strategies at once. If so, then you are probably doing something right! SAMPLE OUTLINE Purpose: To show how programs written for microcomputers relate to the process of writing. Thesis: Microcomputer programs can have a positive effect on students' writing if both the potentials and limitations of the programs are understood. Audience: Current college and university students. Microcomputer Programs and the Process of Writing I. Major Steps in the Writing Process A. Organizing B. Writing the first draft C. Evaluating D. Revising II. Writing Programs for the Microcomputer A. Types of Programs and Their Relationship to theWriting Process 1. Thought a. Use in organizing b. Use in revising 2. Word Processors a. Use in writing the first draft b. Use in revising 3. Analytical programs: grammar, style, spells

a. Use in evaluating b. Use in revising B. Positive and Negative Aspects of Computer Writing Programs 1. Positive features a. Less time spent on repetitive or mechanical writing tasks b. Greater flexibility and versatility in writing process c. Increased revision strategies d. Specific learning possibilities 2. Negative features a. The increased time spent on learning software programs and computers b. The availability of hardware and software c. The unrealistic expectations of users 1) A cure-all for writing problems 2) A way to avoid learning correct grammar/syntax/spelling 3) A method to reduce time spent on writing proficiently 4) A simple process to learn and execute C. Future Possibilities of Computer Programs for Writing 1. Rapid change 2. Improved programs 3. Increased use and availability 4. More realistic assessment of value – critical work Adding Emphasis Visual Devices for Achieving Emphasis In the days before computerized word processing and desktop publishing, the publishing process began with a manuscript and/or a typescript that was sent to a print shop where it Would be prepared for publication and printed. In order to show emphasis, to highlight the title of a book, to refer to a word itself as a word, or to indicate a foreign word or Phrase, the writer would use underlining in the typescript, which would signal the typesetter at the print shop to use italic font for those words. Even today, perhaps the Simplest way to call attention to an otherwise un-emphatic word or phrase is to underline or italicize it. Flaherty is the new committee chair, not Buckley. This mission is extremely important for our future: we must not fail! Because writers using computers today have access to a wide variety of fonts and textual effects, they are no longer limited to underlining to show emphasis. Still, especially for academic writing, italics or underlining is the preferred way to emphasize words or phrases when necessary.

Writers usually choose one or the other method and use it consistently throughout an individual essay. In the final, published version of an article or book, italics are usually used. Writers in academic discourses and students learning to write academic papers are expected to express emphasis primarily through words themselves; overuse of various emphatic devices like changes of font face and size, boldface, all-capitals, and so on in the text of an essay creates the impression of a writer relying on flashy effects instead of clear and precise writing to make a point. Boldface is also used, especially outside of academia, to show emphasis as well as to highlight items in a list, as in the following examples. The picture that television commercials portray of the American home is far from realistic. The following three topics will be covered: topic 1: brief description of topic 1 topic 2: brief description of topic 2 topic 3: brief description of topic 3 Some writers use ALL-CAPITAL letters for emphasis, but they are usually unnecessary and can cause writing to appear cluttered and loud. In email correspondence, the use of all-caps throughout a message can create the unintended impression of shouting and is therefore discouraged. Punctuation Marks for Achieving Emphasis Some punctuation marks prompt the reader to give a word or sentence more than usual emphasis. For example, a command with a period does not evoke the same emphatic response as the same command with an exclamation mark. Watch out! A dash or colon has more emphatic force than a comma. The employees were surprised by the decision, which was not to change company policy. The employees were surprised by the decision--no change in company policy. The employees were surprised by the decision: no change in company policy. Choice and Arrangement of Words for Achieving Emphasis The simplest way to emphasize something is to tell readers directly that what follows is important by using such words and phrases as especially, particularly, crucially, most importantly, and above all.

Emphasis by repetition of key words can be especially effective in a series, as in the following example. See your good times come to color in minutes: pictures protected by an elegant finish, pictures you can take with an instant flash, pictures that can be made into beautiful enlargements. When a pattern is established through repetition and then broken, the varied part will be emphasized, as in the following example. Murtz Rent-a-car is first in reliability, first in service, and last in customer complaints. Besides disrupting an expectation set up by the context, you can also emphasize part of a sentence by departing from the basic structural patterns of the language. The inversion of the standard subject-verb-object pattern in the first sentence below into an object-subjectverb pattern in the second places emphasis on the out-of-sequence term, fifty dollars. I'd make fifty dollars in just two hours on a busy night at the restaurant. Fifty dollars I'd make in just two hours on a busy night at the restaurant. The initial and terminal positions of sentences are inherently more emphatic than the middle segment. Likewise, the main clause of a complex sentence receives more emphasis than subordinate clauses. Therefore, you should put words that you wish to emphasize near the beginnings and endings of sentences and should never bury important elements in subordinate clauses. Consider the following example. No one can deny that the computer has had a great effect upon the business world. Undeniably, the effect of the computer upon the business world has been great. In the first version of this sentence, "No one can deny" and "on the business worlds” are in the most emphasized positions. In addition, the writer has embedded the most important ideas in a subordinate clause: "that the computer has had a great effect." The edited version places the most important ideas in the main clause and in the initial and Terminal slots of the sentence, creating a more engaging prose style. Arrangement of Clauses for Achieving Emphasis Since the terminal position in the sentence carries the most weight and since the main clause is more emphatic than a subordinate clause in a complex sentence, writers often place the subordinate clause before the main clause to give maximal emphasis to the main clause. For example: I believe both of these applicants are superb even though it's hard to find good secretaries nowadays. Even though it's hard to find good secretaries nowadays, I believe both of these applicants are superb.

Sentence Position and Variation for Achieving Emphasis An abrupt short sentence following a long sentence or a sequence of long sentences is often emphatic. For example, compare the following paragraphs. The second version emphasizes an important idea by placing it in an independent clause and placing it at the end of the paragraph: For a long time, but not any more, Japanese corporations used Southeast Asia merely as a cheap source of raw materials, as a place to dump outdated equipment and overstocked merchandise, and as a training ground for junior executives who needed minor league experience. For a long time Japanese corporations used Southeast Asia merely as a cheap source of raw materials, as a place to dump outdated equipment and overstocked merchandise, and as a training ground for junior executives who needed minor league experience. But those days have ended. Varying a sentence by using a question after a series of statements is another way of achieving emphasis. The increased number of joggers, the booming sales of exercise bicycles and other physical training devices, the record number of entrants in marathon races--all clearly indicate the growing belief among Americans that strenuous, prolonged exercise is good for their health. But is it? Coherence When sentences, ideas, and details fit together clearly, readers can follow along easily, and the writing is said to be coherent. It all ties together smoothly and clearly. To establish the links that readers need, you can use the methods listed here. Repetition of a Key Term or Phrase This helps to maintain the focus of the writing and to keep your reader on track. Example: The problem with contemporary art is that most people do not easily understand it. Modern art is deliberately abstract, and that means that contemporary art leaves the viewer wondering what she is looking at. Synonyms Synonyms are words that have essentially the same meaning, and they provide some variety in your word choices while helping the reader to stay focused on the idea being Discussed.

Example: Myths narrate sacred history and explain sacred origins. These traditional narratives are, in short, a set of beliefs that are a very real force in the lives of the people who tell them. Pronouns This, that, these, those, he, she, it, they, and we are useful pronouns for referring back to something previously mentioned. But be sure that what you are referring to is Clear. Example: When scientific experiments do not work out as expected, they are often considered failures until some other scientist tries them again. Those that work out better the second time around are the ones that promise the most rewards. Transitional Words There are many words in English that cue our readers to relationships between sentences and tie them together. See the handout on Transitional Devices (Connecting Words) (#29). There you'll find lists of words such as however, therefore, in addition, also, but, moreover, etc. Example: I like autumn, and yet autumn is a sad time of the year, too. The leaves turn bright shades of red and the weather is mild, but I can't help thinking ahead to the winter and the ice storms that will surely blow through here. In addition, that will be the season of chapped faces too many layers I’ll have to shovel heaps of snow from my car's windshield. Sentence Patterns Sometimes, repeated or parallel sentence patterns can help your reader follow along and keep ideas tied together. Example: (from a speech by President John F. Kennedy, Jr.) Some people ask why. I ask why not. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Conciseness: Methods of Eliminating Wordiness For practice editing sentences to make them more concise, see our exercises on this topic. 1. Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers Writers sometimes clog up their prose with one or more extra words or phrases that seem to determine narrowly or to modify the meaning of a noun but don't actually add to the Meaning of the sentence. Although such words and phrases can be meaningful in the appropriate context, they are often used as "filler" and can easily be eliminated.

Wordy Any particular type of dessert is fine with me. Balancing the budget by Friday is impossibility without some kind of extra help. More Concise Any dessert is fine with me. Balancing the budget by Friday is impossible without extra help Here's a list of some words and phrases that can often be pruned away to make sentences clearer:

kind of sort of type of really specific for all intents and purposes Wordy

definitely actually generally individual particular basically

For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity generally depends on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect. More Concise American industrial productivity depends more on psychological than on technological factors. 2. Change phrases into single words Using phrases to convey meaning that could be presented in a single words contributes to wordiness. Convert phrases into single words when possible. Wordy The employee with ambition...

The department showing the best performance... Jeff Converse, our chief of consulting, suggested at our last board meeting the installation of microfilm equipment in the department of data processing. As you carefully read what you have written to improve your wording and catch small errors of spelling, punctuation, and so on, the thing to do before you do anything else is to try to see where a series of words expressing action could replace the ideas found in nouns rather than verbs. More Concise The ambitious employee... The best-performing department... At our last board meeting, chief consultant Jeff Converse suggested that we install microfilm equipment in the data processing department. As you edit, first find nominalizations that you can replace with verb phrases. 3. Change unnecessary that, who, and which clauses into phrases Using a clause to convey meaning that could be presented in a phrase or even a word contributes to wordiness. Convert modifying clauses into phrases or single words when Possible. Wordy The report, which was released recently... All applicants who are interested in the job must... The system that is most efficient and accurate... More Concise The recently released report... All job applicants must... The most efficient and accurate system... 4. Avoid overusing expletives at the beginning of sentences

Expletives are phrases of the form it + be-verb or there + be-verb. Such expressions can be rhetorically effective for emphasis in some situations, but overuse or unnecessary use Of expletive constructions creates wordy prose. Take the following example: "It is imperative that we find a solution." The same meaning could be expressed with this More succinct wording: "We must find a solution." But using the expletive construction allows the writer to emphasize the urgency of the situation by placing the word imperative near the beginning of the sentence, so the version with the expletive may be preferable. Still, you should generally avoid excessive or unnecessary use of expletives. The most common kind of unnecessary expletive construction involves an expletive followed by a noun and a relative clause beginning with that, which, or who. In most cases, you can create a more concise sentence by eliminating the expletive opening, making the noun the subject of the sentence, and eliminating the relative pronoun. Wordy It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills. There are four rules that should be observed: ... There was a big explosion, which shook the windows, and people ran into the street. More Concise The governor signs or vetoes bill. Four rules should be observed: A big explosion shook the windows, and people ran into the street. 5. Use active rather than passive verbs See our document on active and passive voice for a more thorough explanation of this topic. Wordy Mrs. SIMMs opened an account. The research department checked your figures. More Concise Mrs. SIMMs opened an account. The research department checked your figures.

6. Avoid overusing noun forms of verbs Use verbs when possible rather than noun forms known as nominalizations. Sentences with many nominalizations usually have forms of be as the main verbs. Using the action verbs disguised in nominalizations as the main verbs--instead of forms of be--can help to create engaging rather than dull prose. Wordy The function of this department is the collection of accounts. The current focus of the medical profession is disease prevention. More Concise This department collects accounts. The medical profession currently focuses on disease prevention. 7. Reword unnecessary infinitive phrases Some infinitive phrases can be converted into finite verbs or brief noun phrases. Making such changes also often results in the replacement of a be-verb with an action verb. Wordy The duty of a clerk is to check all incoming mail and to record it. A shortage of tellers at our branch office on Friday and Saturday during rush hours has caused customers to become dissatisfied with service. More Concise A clerk checks and records all incoming mail. A teller shortage at our branch office on Friday and Saturday during rush hours has caused customer dissatisfaction. 8. Replace circumlocutions with direct expressions Circumlocutions are commonly used roundabout expressions that take several words to say what could be said more succinctly. We often overlook them because many such Expressions are habitual figures of speech. In writing, though, they should be avoided since they add extra words without extra meaning. Of course, occasionally you may for

Rhetorical effect decides to use, say, an expletive construction instead of a more succinct expression. These guidelines should be taken as general recommendations, not absolute rules. Wordy At this/that point in time... In accordance with your request... More Concise Now/then... As you requested... Here are some other common circumlocutions that can be compressed into just one word: the reason for for the reason that owing/due to the fact that in light of the fact that considering the fact that on the grounds that this is why = when

-

= because, since, why

-

on the occasion of in a situation in which under circumstances in which

-

as regards in reference to with regard to concerning the matter of where ________ is concerned

= about

-

it is crucial that it is necessary that there is a need/necessity for it is important that cannot be avoided

= must, should

is able to has the opportunity to has the capacity for has the ability to it is possible that there is a chance that it could happen that the possibility exists for Wordy

= can

= may, might, could

It is possible that nothing will come of these preparations. She has the ability to influence the outcome. It is necessary that we take a stand on this pressing issue. More Concise Nothing may come of these preparations. She can influence the outcome We must take a stand on this pressing issue. 9. Omit words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail Be sure always to consider your readers as you draft and revise your writing. If you find passages that explain or describe in detail what would already be obvious to readers, Delete or reword them. Wordy I received your inquiry yesterday. Yes, we do have... It goes without saying that we are acquainted with your policy on filing tax returns, and we have every intention of complying with the regulations that you have mentioned. Imagine a mental picture of someone engaged in the intellectual activity of trying to learn what the rules are for how to play the game of chess.

Baseball, one of our oldest and most popular outdoor summer sports in terms of total attendance at ball parks and viewing on television, has the kind of rhythm of play on the field that alternates between times when players passively wait with no action Taking place between the pitches to the batter and then times when they explode into action as the batter hits a pitched ball to one of the players and the player fields it. More Concise Yes, we do have... We intend to comply with the tax-return regulations that you have mentioned. Imagine someone trying to learn the rules of chess. Baseball has a rhythm that alternates between waiting and explosive action. 10. Omit repetitive wording Watch for phrases or longer passages in your writing in which you repeat words with similar meanings. Below are some general examples of unnecessary repetition contrasted with more concise versions, followed by lists and examples of specific redundant word pairs and categories. Wordy I would appreciate it if you would bring to the attention of your drafting officers the administrator's dislike of long sentences and paragraphs in messages to the field and in other items drafted for her signature or approval, as well as in all correspondence, reports, and studies. Please encourage your section to keep their sentences short. The supply manager considered the correcting typewriter an unneeded luxury. Our branch office currently employs five tellers. These tellers do an excellent job Monday through Thursday but cannot keep up with the rush on Friday and Saturday. More Concise Please encourage your drafting officers to keep sentences and paragraphs in letters, reports, and studies short. Dr. Lomas, the administrator, has mentioned that reports and memos drafted for her approval recently have been wordy and thus timeconsuming. The supply manager considered the correcting typewriter a luxury.

Our branch office currently employs five tellers, who do an excellent job Monday through Thursday but cannot keep up with Friday and Saturday rush periods. Redundant Pairs Many pairs of words imply each other. Finish implies complete, so the phrase completely finish is redundant in most cases. So are many other pairs of words: past memories terrible tragedy various differences end result each individual final outcome basic fundamentals free gift true facts past history important essentials unexpected surprise future plans sudden crisis A related expression that's not redundant as much as it is illogical is very unique. Since unique means "one of a kind," adding modifiers of degree such as very, so, especially, somewhat, extremely, and so on is illogical. One-of-a-kind-ness has no gradations; something is either unique or it is not. Wordy Before the travel agent was completely able to finish explaining the various differences among all of the many very unique vacation packages his travel agency was offering, the customer changed her future plans. More Concise Before the travel agent finished explaining the differences among the unique vacation packages his travel agency was offering, the customer changed her plans. Redundant Categories Specific words imply their general categories, so we usually don't have to state both. We know that a period is a segment of time, that pink is a color, that shiny is an appearance. In each of the following phrases, the general category term can be dropped, leaving just the specific descriptive word: Large in size Often times Of a bright color Heavy in weight Period in time Of cheap quality Honest in character Of an uncertain condition In a confused state Unusual in nature

Round in shape At an early time Economics field Wordy

Extreme in degree Of a strange type

During that time period, many car buyers preferred cars that were pink in color and shiny in appearance. The microscope revealed a group of organisms that were round in shape and peculiar in nature. More Concise During that period, many car buyers preferred pink, shiny cars. The microscope revealed a group of peculiar, round organisms. Exercises for Eliminating Wordiness For strategies to improve conciseness in your writing see methods of eliminating wordiness. Directions: Revise these sentences to state their meaning in fewer words. Avoid passive voice, needless repetition, and wordy phrases and clauses. The first sentence has been done As an example. 1. There are many farmers in the area who are planning to Attend the meeting which is scheduled for next Friday. 1. Many area farmers plan to attend next Friday's meeting. 2. Although Bradley Hall is regularly populated by students, close study of the building as a structure is seldom undertaken by them. 3. He dropped out of school on account of the fact that it was necessary for him to help support his family. 4. It is expected that the new schedule will be announced by the bus company within the next few days. 5. There are many ways in which a student who is interested in meeting foreign students may come to know one.

6. It is very unusual to find someone who has never told a deliberate lie on purpose. 7. Trouble is caused when people disobey rules that have been established for the safety of all. 8. A campus rally was attended by more than a thousand students. Five students were arrested by campus police for disorderly conduct, while several others are charged by Campus administrators with organizing a public meeting without being issued a permit to do so. 9. The subjects that are considered most important by students are those that have been shown to be useful to them after graduation. 10. In the not too distant future, college freshmen must all become aware of the fact that there is a need for them to make contact with an academic adviser concerning the matter of a major. 11. In our company there are wide-open opportunities for professional growth with a company that enjoys an enviable record for stability in the dynamic atmosphere of aerospace technology. 12. Some people believe in capital punishment, while other people are against it; there are many opinions on this subject.

Directions: Combine each sentence group into one concise sentence. 1. The cliff dropped to reefs seventy-five feet below. The reefs below the steep cliff were barely visible through the fog. 2. Their car is gassed up. It is ready for the long drive. The drive will take all night. 3. Sometimes Stan went running with Blanche. She was a good athlete. She was on the track team at school. 4. Taylor brought some candy back from Europe. It wasn't shaped like American candy. The candy tasted kind of strange to him. 5. Government leaders like mention the creation of new jobs. They claim that these new jobs indicate a strong economy. They don't mention that low-wage jobs without benefits and security have replaced many good jobs. Directions: Revise the following passage, avoiding wordiness and undesirable repetition.

A large number of people enjoy reading murder mysteries regularly. As a rule, these people are not themselves murderers, nor would these people really ever enjoy seeing someone commit an actual murder, nor would most of them actually enjoy trying to solve an actual murder. They probably enjoy reading murder mysteries because of this reason: they have found a way to escape from the monotonous, boring routine of dull everyday existence. To such people the murder mystery is realistic fantasy. It is realistic because the people in the murder mystery are as a general rule believable as people. They are not just made up pasteboard figures. It is also realistic because the character who is the hero, the character who solves the murder mystery, solves it not usually by trial and error and haphazard methods but by exercising a high degree of logic and reason. It is absolutely and totally essential that people who enjoy murder mysteries have an admiration for the human faculty of logic. But murder mysteries are also fantasies. The people who read such books of fiction play a game. It is a game in which they suspend certain human emotions. One of these human emotions that they suspend is pity. If the reader stops to feel pity and sympathy for each and every victim that is killed or if the reader stops to feel terrible horror that such a thing could happen in our world of today, that person will never enjoy reading murder m ysteries. The devoted reader of murder mysteries keeps uppermost in mind at all times the goal of arriving through logic and observation at the final solution to the mystery offered in the book. It is a game with life and death. Who dunits hopefully help the reader to hide from the hideous horrors of actual life and death in the real world. Transitional Devices (Connecting Words) Transitional devices are like bridges between parts of your paper. They are cues that help the reader to interpret ideas in the way that you, as a writer, want them to understand. Transitional devices help you carry over a thought from one sentence to another, from one idea to another, or from one paragraph to another with words or phrases. And finally, transitional devices link your sentences and paragraphs together smoothly so that there are no abrupt jumps or breaks between ideas. There are several types of transitional devices, and each category leads your reader to make certain connections or assumptions about the areas you are connecting. Some lead your reader forward and imply the "building" of an idea or thought, while others make your reader compare ideas or draw conclusions from the preceding thoughts. Here is a list of some common transitional devices that can be used to cue your reader in a given way. To Add:

and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what's more, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.), To Compare: whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, although this may be true To Prove: because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, that is To Show Exception: yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, sometimes To Show Time: immediately, thereafter, soon, after a few hours, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next, and then To Repeat: in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, as has been noted, To Emphasize: definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, in any case, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, perennially, eternally, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, without reservation To Show Sequence: first, second, third, and so forth. A, B, C, and so forth. next, then, following this, at this time, now, at this point, after, afterward, subsequently, finally, consequently, previously, before this, simultaneously, concurrently, thus, therefore, hence, next, and then, soon To Give an Example: for example, for instance, in this case, in another case, on this occasion, in this situation, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as an illustration, to illustrate To Summarize or Conclude:

in brief, on the whole, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, accordingly, thus, as a result, consequently, on the whole, For information about using many of these words and phrases, see the Purdue OWL handout Sentence Variety Non-Sexist Language The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) suggests the following guidelines: Generic Use Although MAN in its original sense carried the dual meaning of adult human and adult male, its meaning has come to be so closely identified with adult male that the generic use of MAN and other words with masculine markers should be avoided. Examples -------mankind man's achievements the best man for the job man-made the common man man the stockroom nine man-hours Occupations Avoid the use of MAN in occupational terms when persons holding the job could be either male or female. Examples -------chairman Alternatives ----------------coordinator (of a committee or department), moderator (of a meeting), presiding officer, head, chair Alternatives -------------humanity, people, human beings human achievements the best person for the job synthetic, manufactured, machine-made the average person, ordinary people staff the stockroom nine staff-hours

businessman business executive fireman firefighter mailman mail carrier steward and stewardess/ flight attendant policeman and policewoman police officer congressman congressional representative Pronouns

Because English has no generic singular—or common-sex--pronoun, we have used HE, HIS, and HIM in such expressions as "the student . . . he." When we constantly personify "the judge," "the critic," "the executive," "the author," and so forth, as male by using the pronoun HE, we are subtly conditioning ourselves against the idea of a female judge, critic, executive, or author. There are several alternative approaches for ending the exclusion of women that results from the pervasive use of masculine pronouns. a. Recast into the plural. Example ------Give each student his paper as soon as he is finished. Alternative ------------Give students their papers as soon as they are finished.

b. Reword to eliminate gender problems. Example ------The average student is worried about his grade. Alternative -------------The average student is worried about grades.

c. Replace the masculine pronoun with ONE, YOU, or (sparingly) HE OR SHE, as appropriate. Example Alternative -------------------If the student was satisfied with A student who was satisfied with her his performance on the pretest, he or his performance on the pretest took took the post-test. the post-test. d. Alternate male and female examples and expressions. (Be careful not to confuse the reader.) Example Alternative ----------------------Let each student participate. Has Let each student participate. Has he had a chance to talk? Could he she had a chance to talk? Could he feel left out? feel left out? Indefinite Pronouns Using the masculine pronouns to refer to an indefinite pronoun (everybody, everyone, anybody, anyone) also has the effect of excluding women. In all but strictly formal uses, plural pronouns have become acceptable substitutes for the masculine singular. Example Alternative --------------------

Anyone who wants to go to the game should bring his money tomorrow.

Anyone who wants to go to the game should bring money tomorrow.

Writing Definitions A formal definition is based upon a concise, logical pattern that permits of a maximum of information in a minimum of space. It consists of three parts. The term (word or phrase) to be defined The class of object or concept to which the term belongs. The differentiating characteristics that distinguish it from all all others of its class You have readily available to you a number of such definitions, a single sentence in length, which you have been memorizing since grade school days. "Water (term) is a liquid (class) made up of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen in the ratio of 2 to 1 (distinguishing characteristics)." Practice in the writing of such brief formal definitions is good mental discipline as well as excellent training in conciseness and care in the use of words. In writing a definition: Avoid defining with "is when" and "is where." These adverb phrase introducers do not work well when defining a word. A noun should be defined with a noun, a verb with a verb, an adjective with an adjective. Do not define a word by mere repetition. Define a word in simpler and familiar terms. Keep your class small but adequate. It should be large enough to include all members of the term you are defining but no larger. State the differentiating characteristics precisely. Writing Description Because description is a mode of expository writing which is relied upon in other expository modes, we sometimes find difficulty in imagining a purely descriptive essay. In a narrative, for example, description can make the setting of characters more vivid; in a process paper it can insure that the audience understands the finished product. Regardless of how we use description, it is easy to see that it strengthens an essay considerably. Principles Students often ask, "But how do I write a purely descriptive essay? What's the point of description? What's so different about it?" There are three characteristics of a purely descriptive essay which are worthy of remembering.

♦ a descriptive essay has one, clear dominant impression. If, for example you are describing a snowfall, it is important for you to decide and to let your reader know if it is threatening or lovely; in order to have one dominant impression it cannot be both. The dominant impression guides the author's selection of detail and is thereby made clear to the reader in the thesis sentence. ♦ a descriptive essay can be objective or subjective, giving the author a wide choice of tone, diction and attitude. For instance, an objective description of one's dog would mention such facts as height, weight, coloring and so forth. A subjective description would include the above details, but would also stress the author's feeling toward the dog, as well as its personality and habits. ♦ the purpose of a purely descriptive essay is to involve the reader enough to help him to actually visualize the things being described. A description essay deals with the distinctiveness of the object or scene. Conventions The descriptive essay relies on concrete, sensory detail to communicate its point. Remember, we have five senses, not one or two. The author of a descriptive essay must carefully select his details to support the dominant impression. In other words, the author has the license to omit details, which are incongruent with the dominant impression, unless the dominant impression is one, which points out the discrepancies. Description very often relies on emotion to convey its point. Because of this, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives convey more to the reader than do nouns. Unless the description is objective, you must be sure that the dominant impression conveys an attitude. Strategies Try giving all the details first; the dominant impression then is built from these details. Check your details to be sure that they are consistent with the dominant impression. You might even want to write down the five senses on a scratch piece of paper and check to see that you have covered them all. Try moving your reader through space and time chronologically. For instance, you might want to describe a train ride from start to destination, or a stream from its source to the point at which it joins the river. Use a then-and-now approach to show decay, change or improvement. The house where you grew up might now be a rambling shack. The variations on this strategy are Endless. Select an emotion and try to describe it. It might be more difficult to get started, but it can be worthwhile. Coping with Writing Anxiety For more advice on getting started writing, see the Purdue OWL handout, Overcoming Writer's Block.

Many situations or activities, such as writing, taking tests, competing in sports, speaking before a large audience, and so on, can make us anxious or apprehensive. It's important to remember that some moderate level of anxiety is helpful and productive. That flow of adrenaline is a natural response that helps get us ready for action. Without it, we might not do as well. If we let our anxiety overwhelm us, it can cause problems. If we control that apprehension, however, we can make it work for us. One way to do that is to use some of the coping strategies listed below. Coping Strategies: Focus your energy by rehearsing the task in your head. Consciously stop the nonproductive comments running through your head by replacing them with productive ones. If you have some "rituals" for writing success, use them. Examples: Follow a protocol you may have for organizing your time. Use a favorite pen if you have one. Spend a few minutes doing some relaxation exercises. Take a break: physically walk away from the situation for a few minutes if you can. Relaxation Strategies Stretch! If you can't stand up, stretch as many muscle groups as possible while staying seated. Try tensing and releasing various muscle groups. Starting from your toes, tense up for perhaps five to ten seconds and then let go. Relax and then go on to another muscle group. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes; then fill your chest cavity slowly by taking four of five short deep breaths. Hold each breath until it hurts, and then let it out slowly. Use a calming word or mental image to focus on while relaxing. If you choose a word, be careful not to use an imperative. Don't command yourself to "Calm down!" or "Relax!" Overcoming Writer's Block For more advice on getting started writing, see the Purdue OWL handout, Coping with Writing Anxiety. Because writers have a variety of ways in which they write, there are a variety of reasons that can cause writer's block. When you find yourself blocking, consider these causes and try the suggested strategies that sound the most promising.

IF: You have attempted to begin a paper without doing any preliminary work such as brainstorming or outlining. THEN : work with a tutor use invention strategies suggested by a tutor or teacher refer to the Writing Lab handout "When You Start to Write" IF : You have chosen or been assigned a topic which bores you.... THEN : choose a subject you are interested in (if the assignment will allow it) talk to a tutor about how you can personalize a topic to make it more interesting IF: You don't want to spend time writing or don't understand the assignment... THEN : resign yourself to the fact that you have to write the paper find out what's expected of you (possible sources: teacher, textbook, other students, tutors) try some of the strategies listed above IF : You are anxious about writing the paper.... THEN : refer to the OWL Handout Coping with Writing Anxiety see a Writing Lab tutor IF : You're self-conscious about the writing situation, you may have trouble getting started. And if you're preoccupied with the idea that you have to write about a subject, you probably won't express your most original thoughts on it.... THEN : talk over the subject with a friend or tutor use one of the Specific Strategies listed below IF : You can't stand to write down an idea until it is perfectly worded or if you don't want to leave a poorly worded section on the page after you've written it, you are probably stifling your creativity.... THEN : ease up on your self-criticism force yourself to write down something, however poorly worded, which approximates your thought (you can revise this later) and go on with the next idea use some of the Specific Strategies below break the task up into steps. Meet the general purpose of the assignment. IF : You are worrying a lot about what your teacher or other reader will think of your paper or how harshly he or she will evaluate it, you're probably keeping yourself from writing anything. THEN ; think of this draft as a practice run. Write the draft quickly now, and revise it later. use some of the Specific Strategies below

Specific Strategies These specific strategies in overcoming writer's block will prove more helpful when you're drafting the paper. If you're having trouble coming up with a thesis or generating details, see a Writing Lab tutor or the handout "When You Start to Write." Begin in the middle Start writing at whatever point you like. If you want to begin in the middle, fine. Leave the introduction or first section until later. The reader will never know that you wrote the paper "backwards." Besides, some writers routinely save the introduction until later when they have a clearer idea of what the main idea and purpose will be. Talk the paper "Talk" the paper to someone -- your teacher, a friend, a roommate, a tutor in the Writing Lab. Just pick someone who's willing to give you, say, fifteen to thirty minutes to talk about the topic and whose main aim is to help you get started writing. Have the person take notes while you talk, or tape your conversation. Talking will be helpful because you'll probably be more natural and spontaneous in speech than in writing. Your listener can ask questions and guide you as you speak, and you'll feel more as though you're telling someone about something than completing an assignment. Tape the paper Talk into a tape recorder, imagining your audience in a chair nearby or as a group you are speaking to. Then transcribe the tape-recorded material, and you'll at least have some ideas down on paper to work with and move around. Change the audience Pretend that you're writing to a child, to a close friend, to a parent, to a person who sharply disagrees with you, to someone who's new to the subject and needs to have you explain slowly and clearly what you're talking about. Changing the audience can clarify your purpose ("Who am I writing to when I explain how to change the oil in a car? That guy down the hall who's always asking everyone for help.") Changing the audience can also make you feel more comfortable and can help you write more easily. Play a role Pretend you are someone else writing the paper. For instance, assume you are the president of a strong feminist movement such as NOW and are asked to write about sexist advertising. Or pretend you are the president of a major oil company asked to defend the high price of oil. Consider being someone in another time period, perhaps Abraham Lincoln, or someone with a different perspective than your own on things -such as someone living in Hiroshima at the time the bomb was dropped. Pulling yourself

out of your usual perspective can help you think more about the subject than about writing on the subject. Proofreading Your Paper Brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab Proofreading Your Work It is always difficult to find errors in one's own work. The words and sentences appear correct on rereading because if the writer had known better, he would not have made the errors in the first place! But a careful rereading of a paper aloud before it is turned in helps considerably. Perhaps a checklist of common errors will serve you as a guide. Keep this list and a grammar book before you as you read your paper over, checking every sentence for these items. Run-on Sentences and Sentence Fragments Check each sentence to make sure it has a subject and verb and complete thought. Have you run two sentences together incorrectly with neither period, conjunction nor semicolon separating them? Punctuation Have you ended every sentence with a period, question mark or exclamation point? APA your thoughts within sentences broken up correctly by commas for easier understanding? Have you broken up series by commas? Have you used a period after abbreviations? If you are in doubt about the proper punctuation of a sentence, have you asked or looked it up in your grammar book? Quotation Marks Did you remember to place exact quotes within quotation marks? Did you place all periods and commas inside the quotation marks while placing semicolons and colons outside them?

Subject-Verb Agreements Check every subject and verb to make sure that if you have used a singular subject, you have also used a singular verb. Similarly, a plural subject needs a plural verb. Sentence Length Compute the average number of words per sentence. How close is that number compared to the average of 22? Have you varied the length of sentences in each paragraph? If your sentences are too long, break them into shorter units. Sentences that are very short tend to produce a jerky style of writing. Does each sentence follow clearly and logically from the one before it? Have you used some type of transitional device between each sentence? Apostrophes Have you used them correctly to indicate possession? If you're unsure, check a grammar book. Tenses Have you incorrectly jumped about in different tenses? Have you used the correct form of the verb to express the tense you want? Capitalization Have you capitalized names of persons, cities, countries, streets, and titles? Have you capitalized a quotation according to the original and the needs of your sentence? Spelling Check any word you have doubts about. If you are unsure of the spelling of a certain word, look it up. Be especially careful of the words listed as spelling nightmares; also "ei" and "ie" words, words which add "-ing" and "ed," and words with one or more sets of double letters. Paragraphing Does each paragraph have a topic sentence, which states the main idea? Have you used examples and vivid specific details to describe your topic? Have you used explanatory sentences to give your opinion or judgment on the topic? Have you included sentences, which pertain only to that idea? Are transitions used between sentences and paragraphs?

Is there a concluding sentence? Omissions Have you left out any words in your sentences? Editing and Proofreading Strategies for Revision Some people use the terms "editing" and "proofreading" interchangeably. Others mean something very different with each term: Editing: The process of looking at the whole paper to note its overall content, organization, and other major issues that make the paper an effective document. (Section A of this handout offers strategies for editing.) Proofreading: The process of looking more closely at sentences and word choices to be sure they are effective and grammatically correct. (Section B of this handout offers strategies for proofreading.)

A. Editing: For working on larger issues Once a rough draft is finished, you should try to set it aside for at least a day and come back to the paper with a fresh mind and thus more easily catch the errors in it. You'll bring a fresh mind to the process of polishing a paper and ready to try some of the following strategies. 1. Read the Paper Aloud If we read the paper aloud slowly, we have two senses—the eyes AND the ears--working for us. Thus, what one sense misses, the other may pick up. 2. Check the Thesis Statement and Organization Write down your thesis on a piece of paper if it is not directly stated in your paper. Does it accurately state your main idea? Is it in fact supported by the paper? Does it need to be changed in any way? On that piece of paper, list the main idea of each paragraph under the thesis statement. Is each paragraph relevant to the thesis? Are the paragraphs in a logical sequence or order? 3. Remember that you are Writing for Others No matter how familiar they may be with the material, they cannot "get inside" your head and understand your approach to it unless you express yourself clearly. Therefore, it is

useful to read the paper through once as you bear in mind whether or not the student or teacher or friend who will be reading it will understand what you are saying. That is, have you said exactly what you wanted to? 4. Check the Paper's Development Are there sufficient details? Is the logic valid? 5. Check the Paper's Coherence and Unity Are the major points connected? Are the relationships between them expressed clearly? Do they all relate to the thesis? 6. Check you Writing for Abstract Subjects, Particularly Those you have Combined with Passive Verbs Try substituting concrete or personal subjects with active verbs. Original: More attractiveness is sometimes given an act when it is made illegal. Revision: When an act becomes illegal, some people find it more attractive. 7. Cut out Wordiness wherever possible Original: They are desirous of ... Revision: They want... 8. Use Active Verbs Since verbs tend to carry the meaning of your sentences, use the most precise and active ones possible. Thus, avoid constructions using the various forms of the verb "to be." Original: Inflation is a threat to our economy. Revision: Inflation threatens our economy. 9. Unless Using the Construction for Emphasis, Avoid Using Stretcher Phrases such as "It Is" and "There Are" Remember the need for strong verbs. Original: There were several reasons for the United States' entrance into the war. Revision: The United States entered the war for several reasons.

10. Replace Colloquialisms with Fresh and more Precise Statements Because colloquialisms tend to be used so often, they also are not very precise in meaning. A hassle, for example, can be an annoyance, an argument, or a physical fight. Original: Her behavior flipped me out. Revision: Her behavior first stunned, then delighted me. 11. Review your Sentences Be sure that no parts of the paper are "short and choppy"; be sure that the rhythm of your paper is not interrupted, except for a good reason, like emphasis. A good way of Smoothing out such a problem is to try combining sentences, and in so doing showing the relationship between them. Original: The best show in terms of creating a tense atmosphere is "Jeopardy." This is probably the most famous of all games shows. It is my favorite show. Revision: The best show in terms of creating a tense atmosphere is "Jeopardy," which is also probably the most famous of all game shows and my favorite. 12. Review your Diction Remember that others are reading your paper and that even the choice of one word can affect their response to it. Try to anticipate their response, and choose your words accordingly. Original: The media's exploitation of the Watergate scandal showed how biased it was already. Revision: The media's coverage of the Watergate scandal suggests that perhaps those in the media had already determined Nixon's guilt. In addition to being more specific, the revision does not force the reader to defend the media. In the first example, though, the statement is so exaggerated that even the reader who is neutral on the issue may feel it necessary to defend the media. Thus, the writer of the original has made his job of persuading the reader that much harder. B. Proofreading: For working on sentence and word-level issues No matter how many times you read through a "finished" paper, you're likely to miss many of your most frequent errors. The following guide will help you proofread more effectively

1. General Strategies • Begin by taking a break. Allow yourself some time between writing and proofing. Even a five-minute break is productive because it will help get some distance from what you have written. The goal is to return with a fresh eye and mind. • Try to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n as you read through a paper. That will help you catch mistakes that you might otherwise overlook. As you use these strategies, remember to work slowly. If you read at a normal speed, you won't give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors: • Reading aloud. Reading a paper aloud encourages you to read every little word. • Reading with a "cover." Sliding a blank sheet of paper down the page as you read encourages you to make a detailed, line-by-line review of the paper.

2. Strategies That Personalize Proofreading You won't be able to check for everything (and you don't have to), so you should find out what your typical problem areas are and look for each type of error individually. Here's how: 1. Find out what errors you typically make. Review instructors' comments about your writing and/or review your paper(s) with a Writing Lab tutor. 2. Learn how to fix those errors. Talk with your instructor and/or with a Writing Lab tutor. The instructor and the tutor can help you understand why you make the errors you do so that you can learn to avoid them. 3. Use specific strategies. Use these strategies to find and correct your particular errors in usage and sentence structure, and spelling and punctuation.

For Usage and Sentence Structure -For subject/verb agreement: 1. Find the main verb in each sentence. 2. Match the verb to its subject. 3. Make sure that the subject and verb agree in number.

-For pronoun reference/agreement: 1. Skim your paper, stopping at each pronoun. Look especially at it, this, they, their, and them. 2. Search for the noun that the pronoun replaces. If you can't find any noun, insert one beforehand or change the pronoun to a noun. If you can find a noun, be sure it agrees in number and person with your pronoun. See the OWL handout concerning Pronouns. -For parallel structure: 1. Skim your paper, stopping at key words that signal parallel structures. Look especially for and, or, not only...but also, either... or,neither...nor, both...and. 2. Make sure that the items connected by these words (adjectives, nouns, phrases, etc.) are in the same grammatical form. For more information, see the OWL handout Parallel Structure. Spelling and Punctuation -For spelling: 1. Examine each word in the paper individually. Move from the end of each line back to the beginning. Pointing with a pencil helps you really see each word. 2. If necessary, check a dictionary to see that each word is spelled correctly. For more information, see the OWL handout on Spelling. -For compound sentence commas: 1. Skim for the conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor,so and yet. 2. See whether there is a complete sentence on each side of the conjunction. If so, place a comma before the conjunction. For more information, see the OWL handout on IC's and DC's and Punctuation. -For introductory commas: 1. Skim your paper, looking only at the first two or three words of each sentence.

2. Stop if one of these words is a dependent marker, a transition word, a participle, or a preposition. 3. Listen for a possible break point before the main clause. 4. Place a comma at the end of the introductory phrase or clause (which is before the independent clause). For more information, see the OWL handout Commas after introductions. -For comma splices: 1. Skim the paper, stopping at every comma. 2. See whether there is a complete sentence on each side of the comma. If so, add a coordinating conjunction after the comma or replace the comma with a semicolon. For more information, see the OWL handout Commas. -For fragments: 1. Look at each sentence to see whether it contains an independent clause. 2. Pay special attention to sentences that begin with dependent marker words (such as because) or phrases such as for example or such as. 3. See if the sentence might be just a piece of the previous sentence that mistakenly got separated by a period. For more information, see the OWL handout Sentence Fragments. -For run-on sentences: 1. Review each sentence to see whether it contains more than one independent clause. Start with the last sentence of your paper, and work your way back to the beginning, sentence by sentence. 2. Break the sentence into two sentences if necessary. See the OWL handout Comma Splices. -For apostrophes: 1. Skim your paper, stopping only at those words which end in "s."

2. See whether or not each "s" word needs an apostrophe. If an apostrophe is needed, you will be able to invert the word order and say "of" or "of the": Mary's hat the hat of Mary For more information, consult OWL Handout The Apostrophe. -For left-out words: 1. Read the paper aloud, pointing to every word as you read. Don't let your eye move ahead until you spot each word. 2. Also, make sure that you haven't doubled any words. Steps in Editing (proofreading) Your Papers Brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab Identify typical errors Review graded or scored comments on your old papers, and list errors which were marked frequently. Be as specific as possible in gathering your list (for example, problems with introductory commas). Make a hierarchy Determine which of the errors on your list occurred most often and/or cost you the most in points or letter grades. Rank order the items on your list so that the most serious errors are on the top. Learn concepts Make sure that you understand why you made the errors on your list. Do a couple of practice exercises, and talk to a Writing Lab tutor. Using your hierarchy, write rules and sample sentences in your notebook or in the back of your dictionary. Develop strategies Ask a Writing Lab tutor for specific, "quick" strategies you can use to locate these errors in your papers. Refer, if needed, to the Writing Lab's "Proofreading Strategies" handout. Write each strategy, step by step, next to its corresponding rule in your notebook or dictionary. Include any relevant key words or phrases. Write

Write your paper as you normally would, concentrating mainly on your ideas, not on rules or strategies. Apply your strategies When you finish writing, take a break, and then apply the strategies one at a time, using the rules and sample sentences as reminders if you get stuck. Remember that you are looking for specific errors, not reading the paper. Go completely through the paper looking for only one kind of error at a time. You will be able to focus your concentration and energy better that way. Please note: Editing is not a substitute for, but a supplement to, reading for meaning. For best results, use both methods.

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