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Writing Science: Style

Avoid Unnecessary Words

Extra words can make writing awkward and cumbersome. Simpler is generally better, so long as neither clarity nor accuracy is affected. When reviewing your work, look for wordiness and reduce instances to simpler, more direct language. The following list includes many common examples:

  • Replace "due to the fact that" with "because"
  • Replace "has an effect on" with "affects"
  • Replace "utilize/utilization" with "use"
  • Replace "a majority of" with "most"
  • Replace "a number of" with "many"
  • Replace "are of the same opinion" with "agree"
  • Replace "less frequently occurring" with "rare"
  • Replace "all three of the" with "the three"
  • Replace "give rise to" with "cause"
  • Replace "in order to" with "to"



Avoid Jargon

Jargon is specialized terminology used by a group/field/profession that is difficult for others to understand; use it sparingly. If you must use a specialized term, be sure to define it clearly upon first use.



Be Precise and Accurate

It is important that the reader understand exactly what you mean to say; therefore, be as specific and accurate in your terminology and avoid colloquial words and phrases.

Be specific, not general

  • Instead of "a period of time" write "a week (or a month, a day, an hour)"
  • Instead of "bad weather" write "heavy rain and 40 km/hr winds"

Be concrete, not abstract

  • Instead of "forest" write "mature stand of mixed deciduous"
  • Instead of "responded well" write "increased"

Be formal, not colloquial

  • Instead of "nowhere near" write "far from"
  • Instead of "lots of or a lot" write "most or many"

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