The list of links at the right identifies ten problems constituting the great majority of the edits I make in manuscripts authors submit to publishers (in just about every discipline).

Authors typically emulate what they read. From seeing the same sentence constructions, phrasings, and buzzwords time and again, many authors naturally enough turn to those usages in their own writing. (After all, how do ordinary words become buzzwords?) The usages appear to be sanctioned because they are widespread, and through uncritical acceptance the frequency grows even more. It’s a powerful cycle.

Given a chance, by way of raised awareness, many authors welcome edits and suggestions that may be unfamiliar but will improve their own writing.

My favored approach to copyediting, then, is to offer friendly, elucidating, and even lighthearted queries to authors who appear to be receptive to taking a better look at their own writing.

Here’s a sample of how a query looks in the copyedited manuscript that is sent back to the author for review:

These ten tips are an easy way for an author (or a production editor or other publishing professional who wants to offer help to authors) to see, perhaps with a newly critical eye, ten usages that may be rampant but not what the author wants associated with his or her good name.

I hope you’ll browse the links that are in place, and come back to see more as they are added. Feel free to refer authors and others to these ten easy fixes!



  2.   1. based on

  3.   2. dangling modifier

  4.   3. different

  5.   4. due to

  6.   5. is comprised of

  7. coming soon:

  8.   6. not only but also

  9.   7. provide

  10.   8. robust (and other buzzwords)

  11.   9. singular-they

  12. 10. the following


Better Writing—Instantly