Few writing and editing tips


keyanimatedI helped with writing and editing Key 2 Europe last year, 2015. I work as a newspaper correspondent and a magazine editor and know that the issue is quite complicated. Even if you submit a good article, your editors will do some work on it and make at least a few changes. Usually, the editor must think in much more global context as the writer and keep in mind things that would otherwise go unnoticed. Not everything edited is therefore bad, just the situation required different linguistic or practical solution.

Here are some mistakes that people often made in the serious articles. I picked up them while editing. Take them as an inspiration, not a command!

Feel free to discuss and criticize my points – confrontation moves us forward!

Erik Rédli, AEGEE-Bratislava

Contact me via Facebook (Erik Redli) or my blog https://erikredli.wordpress.com/about/


1 Never start a sentence with ‘and’ or similar conjunction. It does not look well.

2 Avoid the word ‘then’ to indicate sequence of time. Use more creative expressions: later, after that, consequently, after some time…

3 Put the most important thing before the less important. The action and things affected by the action must be clearly recognized. Associate the verb with the most fitting noun.

EX: The party with champagne and cakes started. NO: Champagne, party and cake started.

4, Combination like this is unacceptable! (in formal writing)

”And then the cake, champagne and party started! ”

5 When referring to people, use WHO not THAT.

6 Prefer full forms to infinite forms and ings.

”…organised the magnificent parties, sharing the joy with their friends…”

”…organised the magnificent parties, where they shared the joy with their friends…”

7 Proper names, official designations and functions connected directly with the person are capitalized though it is advisable to double check.

…president arrived…, …President Obama arrived…, National Assembly of Slovak Republic vs. …all national assemblies must follow some rules…

8 use relative pronouns (even if they can be omitted)

We were happy [that] they arrived…

9 avoid too long pre-modifications and attributes

and also because of the fact that in Germany… – because in Germany,

10 explain terms that are new to the readers, do some research if necessary

We served Pierogi ruskie – dumplings filled with potatoes and cheese,…

11 is lovely decoration always necessary? People would have the picture even if you say ‘decoration’ and save words for most important facts. Write in detail about what is important and cut short the rest.

Lovely decoration … – decoration…

12 check the spelling of the words with double spelling (recognize – recognise) and keep in mind the English variety used in your publication!!!

British variety prefers s – analyse, recognise, symbolise…but mind: organization – organisation (a body of people VS. process of organizing devolved from organize)

13 When you mention a person who is unknown, try do include his function, position or relationship to the issue.

14 THE refers to something that we already know.

We vote for A new board because it is something unknown, however THE old board can be present.

15 Use full forms, not shortened ones couldn’t = could not, I’m = I am,

it also helps to solve mysteries such as I’d = I would or I had ??

16 Make sure that the relative pronouns refer to what they should refer to:

When we use comma, the following relative pronoun refers to the whole preceding sentence.

Ex: The celebration began in our office in the centre of AACHEN, which is very cosy. Refers to the office in the centre of Aachen

When you use relative pronoun without a comma, it refers to the last word.

The celebration began in our office in the city centre of Aachen which is very cosy. Now it refers only to Aachen – the office does not have to be cosy.

17 Use WHEN to refer to time, not THAT. From the time when he started to falling with love with AEGEE and tequila. Similarly, it is better to use WHICH or THAT

for things, not WHAT, especially before adjectives…which is better,

18 Avoid empty words, be specific…’After that we had some whipped cream all over our faces’ – was it or wasn’t it whipped cream? SOME suggest not being sure and avoiding responsibility.

Avoid: something, someone, somehow, such things – name the things!…

19 help, need, make are not followed by to infinitive, just bare infinitive. He helped his mother cross the road. Although in some varieties of English to might be optional.

20 If the quotation marks involve the full sentence (usually starting with the question word), the punctuation mark stays within them. If they do not include a complete though uttered by someone, they are out.

Peter asked me. “Can you help me with this drunken sailor?”

Peter asked me whether I can kick out all of those “drunken sailors”. Mr Ban called for a “collective political response” to avert “a crisis of solidarity”.

In American English, the punctuation marks go often inside the quotation marks but British English might have different!

The New York Times – “The cartels have a pretty good handle on the appetite in the U.S.,” said Jack Riley, the deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency. August 29

BBC …Xi Jinping, China’s president, wanted to make deep reforms but had encountered resistance “beyond what could have been imagined”.

More detailed rules http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/08/punctuating-around-quotation-marks.html

21 Prefer noun phrase instead of verb or non-finite oneintroducing the single currency was not… – the introduction of the single currency…

22 wrong sentence coordination

It made us even more proud of him and to be part of AEGEE. – and part of AEGEE

– the predicate is MADE and it requires an object an adverbial – which is fulfilled by US (direct object) PROUD OF HIM (adverbial)…but the second part is ill construction – AND TO BE PART OF AEGEE – because it has another predicate TO BE…AND PART OF AEGEE is ok..

23 Concorde – agreement between the noun and verb in the number…mainly in long sentences, where you get lost.

”The ambitions of the new board were [was] very high”

24 choose correct words, serious issues instead of hard things to discuss

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