Owl Editing

Owl Editing

Tips for writers

Posts filed under writing

The Tricky Order of Adjectives

If you’re confused about this, you’re not alone. J. R. R. Tolkien ran into this little-known quirk of English grammar when he first began writing: I first tried to write a story when I was about seven. It was about a dragon. . . . My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out… (read more)

WRITING TIP: Capitalization of Names of Places

Capitalize names of places, such as streets, buildings, parks, mountains, countries, rivers, oceans, and lakes, if the exact name is used. For instance, in the name “the Empire State Building” the E, S, and B are capitalized because they begin the words of the name of the building. Observe that the “the” is not capitalized… (read more)

Effective Writing: Sort Out Your Ideas (1)

Subordination, the grouping of ideas into principal and subordinate clauses in a sentence, is much like the pictorial artist’s emphasis upon one element in his painting at the expense of all others; or like the photographer’s selective focus, by means of which he keeps a certain part of his picture in focus and deliberately allows… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (3)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 3 The view from the hill behind our town — is it beautiful? If a writer uses that overworked, vague term, he must at once tell specific things that support his use of the general adjective. A writer must never use a general term unless he follows it… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (2)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 2 The following selection from Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon is full of sharp, clearly defined terms. After explaining that the ship Nan-shan, on her way to Fu-chau, had two hundred Chinese coolies on board, Conrad goes on with: The foredeck, packed with Chinamen, was full of somber clothing, yellow… (read more)

Steps to Effective Writing (1)

Step 1. Write in Specifics – part 1 Writing in specific, concrete, definite terms is the most important single principle the student of effective writing can learn. General, abstract, and vague terms are deadly foes of effective writing. They rob writing of all its vitality; they give the reader the unpleasant sensation of having entered a schizoid world in… (read more)

Reducing bias in writing-5

Age should be reported as part of the description of participants in the Method section. Be specific in providing age ranges; avoid open-ended definitions such as “under 18 years” or “over 65 years.” Girl and boy are correct terms for referring to individuals under the age of 12 years. Young man and young woman and… (read more)

Reducing bias in writing-4

Write about the people in your study in a way that acknowledges their participation but is also consistent with the traditions of the field in which you are working. Thus, although descriptive terms such as college students, children, or respondents provide precise information about the individuals taking part in a research project, the more general… (read more)

Reducing bias in writing-3

From the APA Publication Manual (6th ed) (2010): Bias may be promoted when the writer uses one group (often the writer’s own group) as the standard against which others are judged, for example, citizens of the United States. In some contexts, the term culturally deprived may imply that one culture is the universally accepted standard…. (read more)

Reducing bias in writing-1

From the APA Publication Manual (6th ed) (2010): Respect people’s preferences; call people what they prefer to be called. Accept that preferences change with time and that individuals within groups often disagree about the designations they prefer. Make an effort to determine what is appropriate for your situation; you may need to ask your participants… (read more)