Owl Editing

Owl Editing

Tips for writers


All posts by owled

APA Margins

Set uniform margins of at least 1 in. (2.54 cm) on the top, bottom, left, and right of every page. Use your word-processing software to add a header that will appear at the top of every page that includes the running head and the page number. The header appears within the top margin, not below it.

According to the APA Publication Manual 6th edition (section 8.03, pp. 229-230).

For more information about editing and formatting of essays, manuscripts, and theses, see the Owl Editing website.


The Active Voice

The active voice is direct and vigorous. In grammar, passive describes a sentence in which something sits and waits for something to happen to it. With passive sentences, you sound like someone who sits and waits for things to happen.

    PASSIVE: The ball was kicked by John.
    ACTIVE: John kicked the ball.


Proper use of articles

The root word of “the” is “this” or “that” (definite article).
The root word of “a/an” is “any” (indefinite article).

This table shows how the articles should be used with nouns:


A common error in writing: nominalization

Nominalization is changing a verb into a noun. When you change a verb to a noun, you take the strength away from the sentence. For example, “to conclude” is a specific act but if you are “reaching a conclusion” you’ve eliminated the specific action and replaced it with an all-purpose verb. Instead of “concluding,” the action becomes “reaching.” LOOK FOR such words as: recognition, assumption, formation, protection, realization, destruction, decision, examination and correct the error by changing the word back to a verb that is assigned to a subject.

INSTEAD OF: We reached the conclusion that…
USE: We concluded that…
INSTEAD OF: I am working on the assumption that…
USE: I assume that…