Writing and Revising
Over the past 25 years of teaching, writing, and editing, I have compiled a set of tips, tricks, and pet peeves (my own and those of others whose writing and guidance I like) that I share with students and colleagues. I've decided to make this writing guide more widely available in case others will find it useful. The emphasis is on scientific writing, but the same principles apply to most non-fiction (including journalism). I will maintain a link to the most recent version of the file on this page.
The first part of the file gives some broad principles of effective writing. The next section gives guidance on how to edit and revise your manuscript. After that comes a list of common writing mistakes and my pet peeves. The last section provides a revision worksheet. The worksheet is perhaps the most useful part of this guide. It is a systematic way to edit papers, progressing from high-level organization to the word level, with a box to check after you complete each step. By following the steps in the revision worksheet, your writing will be more concise, more precise, and easier to read.
If you use this guide or the worksheet for one of your own revisions, I'd be curious to hear whether it helped you. If you have suggestions for future versions of this file, I'd love to see those too.
Dan's writing and revising guide