Good Writing Tips
Limit the use of "be" verbs:am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been
Replace light verbs:be: exist, occur, equal, consist of, comprise (of), typify, appear, seem, tend...
have: possess, contain, exhibit, with*...
give: provide, yield, produce, lead to, impart...
do: perform, execute, carry out, implement, manage...
make: create, produce, facilitate...
go: run, come proceed, journey, travel, progress, exceed...
set: put place, position, arrange...

Replace other “light” words:
thing: object, device, item, situation, circumstance, subject, element
person or people: someone, man' individual, Canadians, researchers, subject, human subjects, voters, males,
participants, politicians
good: sufficient, excellent, optimal, ideal, studious, prime
big: large, significant, numerous, enormous
a lot or lots of: many, numerous, large number/amount/quantify of, plenty (of)

  • Use of a comma as a conjunction, otherwise known as a comma splice. “The bank was closed, I couldn’t cash my check.” is incorrect. “Since the bank was closed, I couldn’t cash my check.” and “I couldn’t cash my check because the bank was closed.” are correct. Be careful not to use commas unnecessarily; they are used for a purpose, not for decoration.
  • Many direct quotes. Direct quotes are appropriate at times but your objective is to analyze, not recite the literature. Your paper should be more than a “cut and paste” job of one quote after another.
  • Contractions. Contractions are acceptable in every-day conversation but they are not acceptable in a scholarly paper.
  • Split infinitives. “Not to go,” not “to not go.”
  • Direct reference to your paper. Example: "In this paper I will . . ." or "This essay shows . . ."
  • Dangling participles. Example: “Hanging on a nail in the closet, I found my tie.” Were you hanging on the nail?
  • Abbreviations. Abbreviations in the text of a scholarly paper, such as etc., i.e., e.g., and so forth, are the mark of an abbreviated education. You also should avoid the U.S. Postal Service abbreviations for states (KY, TN, VA).
  • "Though." Don’t ever use this word in a scholarly paper. “However” is a good substitute.
  • Using the word "feel" for think, believe, have concluded, and so forth.
  • "Hopefully."
  • "Refer back."
  • "Thing" and "things."
  • Don't start a sentence with the words "What," as in "What I'm arguing is..." because it usually means you'll use the verb "to be." You can write the sentence better without this construction. ("I argue that...) Of course, use "What" if the sentence is a question. ("What is going on?" she asked.)
  • Likewise, don't start a sentence with the word "Which" unless it is a question, as in "Which is why the president signed the bill." You may see this construction in the popular press, but it is incorrect, since the sentence doesn't properly contain a subject.
  • Passive voice. (For example: "It was decided..." Who made the decision?)
  • Cliches like the plague. (A joke, but do you get the idea?)
  • Using the same words (especially verbs and nouns) in the same sentence or paragraph. Employ different words to provide variety and interest. Utilize a thesaurus if necessary. (See how I avoided the word "use" in each of the last three sentences?
  • Long quotes. When you decide to use the words of another author, make the passage brief and be 100% certain that you give that author the appropriate credit the correct way. References, be they footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical citations with Works Cited page, or in the text, always must include the page number (s). Their purpose is to enable the reader to find the passage without reading the entire work.

Watch out for homonyms:Spell checkers are wonderful, but they are absolutely useless for detecting misused homonyms or near-homonyms.