The Open Desk

Margie Beilharz

Freelance editor and writer in science, environment, education, health

Eliminate the negative

As a bit of professional development, I’m taking a Stanford Uni MOOC, ‘Writing in the Sciences’.

Week 1 done: It’s reassuring to see that most of the editing tips are pretty familiar (clear out ‘dead words and phrases’, cut repetition, avoid lots of verbs turned into nouns etc.). It’s still great to have them spelled out by someone else, and brought to the forefront of my mind for a bit.

One thing that I liked, and haven’t consciously targeted before in my writing/editing, is the idea of eliminating negatives.

It is often simpler and quicker to say the positive version rather than the negative: ‘They did not believe the drug was harmful’ vs ‘They believed the drug was safe’.

Seems like a good tip.


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Comments

One response to “Eliminate the negative”

  1. Lawrence Avatar

    Hi grreat reading your post

    Like

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