New guide to writing and revising

Over the past 20 years of teaching, writing, and editing, I have compiled a set of tips, tricks, and pet peeves that I share with students and colleagues. I’ve decided to make this writing guide more widely available in case others will find it useful. The emphasis is on scientific writing, but the same principles apply to most non-fiction (including journalism). The most recent version of the file is available from my personal website at

The first part of the guide gives some broad principles of effective writing. The next section provides suggestions for editing and revising a manuscript. After that comes a list of common writing mistakes and my pet peeves. The last section provides a revision worksheet. The worksheet is perhaps the most useful part of the writing guide. It is a systematic way to edit papers, progressing from high-level organization to the word level, with a box to check after you complete each step. By following the steps in the revision worksheet, your writing will be more concise, more precise, and easier to read.

If you use this guide or the worksheet for one of your own revisions, I’d be curious to hear whether it helped you. If you have suggestions for future versions of this file, I’d love to see those too. Rather than posting comments here, please post them to the following page on Google+:

Feel free to share the file itself with your students or fellow writers.

Comments are closed.