Center For Academic Excellence
CAE | Revising for Style
1. Vary the length of sentences. Avoid a series of short, choppy sentences.
a. Count the number of words in each sentence, and write this number in the margin.
b. If many of the sentences are of the same length, rewrite some of them to have interesting sentence variety.
2. Vary the beginnings of sentences.
a. Circle the first five words of each sentence.
b. Read through the essay, reading only these first five words.
c. If many of the sentences start with the same pattern, rewrite some of them to have adequate sentence variety.
3. Pronouns like it and this can be overused, especially when their antecedents are unclear.
a. Underline all uses of it and this.
b. Draw a line from the word or group of words that these pronowis replace.
c. If the antecedent is implied or if several words or ideas could be mistaken for the antecedent, you will want to rewrite the sentence to prevent possible misreading.
4. Pronouns like I and you can be overused, especially when every sentence includes one of them.
a. Highlight all uses of I and you.
b. Read the sentence to determine if the use of these pronowis is essential to convey your meaning.
c. If you think there may be a way to eliminate these pronowis, try rewriting the sentence without them. If the sentence becomes too complicated or
loses meaning, use these pronouns.
5. Eliminate repetition.
a. Read each sentence carefully, looking for words (or phrases) that repeat something already said in the sentence.
b. After you eliminate the words that may be unnecessary, reread the sentence to make sure that you have not removed too many words.
6. Word choice
a. Highlight any word that doesn't seem to express what you want to say.
b. Use a thesaurus and a dictionary to find the word that best suits your purpose.
Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Waldrep, Ph.D. - Director (retired)