Writing

When in doubt, cut it out: editing tips

By 4 March 2018 No Comments

Recently I edited a large, complex scientific report. As an editor, one of the first things you do is remove extraneous words. Why force a reader to read two or more words, when one will do?

As I worked through the report, I compiled a list of terms that I decided usually add nothing to meaning or understanding. So here is my list of words that can almost always be removed from scientific reports, with an example of each deleted so that you can read the sentence with the offending term removed:

going forward
The manufacture of cars with no reverse gear will significantly change driving habits going forward

currently
Professor Smith is currently head of the university association

in the longer term
The manufacture of cars with no reverse gear will significantly change driving habits in the longer term

in order
There is a need for interdisciplinary training to be provided in order to enhance Australia’s capacity

It is important to note
It is important to note that a good editor adds considerable value to a document

relatively
Australia’s market for these products is relatively small

very
DNA synthesis is outsourced very effectively in Australia

completely
Acme chemicals had to completely re-engineer the synthesis pathway

Finally, just for fun:

It is very important to note that in the longer term in order to improve writing, relatively little can currently be gained from completely overlooking my excellent tips going forward.

What other terms do you suggest should be removed from documents?

Paul Holper

Author Paul Holper

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