How to Write Good: I’m working on a research paper and I have to remind myself of these golden rules. :)

How to Write Good: I’m working on a research paper and I have to remind myself of these golden rules.   🙂

• Avoid Alliteration. Always.

• Eschew obfuscation.

• One word sentences? Eliminate.

• Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.

• The passive voice is to be avoided.

• Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

• Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

• Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.

• Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!

• Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

• Be more or less specific.

• Understatement is always best.

• Who needs rhetorical questions?

• And always be sure to finish what


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95 Responses to How to Write Good: I’m working on a research paper and I have to remind myself of these golden rules. :)

  1. Mark Herndon says:

    he he he guilty ; )

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    Mark Herndon , alliterations are awesome 😉

  3. Hahaha. I like the ” Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.” LOL

  4. I like, did you write anything?

  5. Rajini Rao sounds like you should sign up with the American Association Against Alliteration Abuse =)

  6. LOL.  Thanks for sharing.  !#$%^@ old habits are hard to break.  (Pardon my French)

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, I’m guilty of nearly everything on that list. MS Word is always nagging me about passive voice. But the alternative seems too unscientific and boastful.

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    John Christopher , you should heed the rule, “Profanity sucks” 🙂

  9. :)) Oh, is that the rule?  I thought it was the inappropriate use of a foreign word…  🙂

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Jean Liss , I’ve heard of Eats, shoots and leaves re. the Oxford comma. This is a new one 🙂

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    Matt Tuomala , I never use no bad language 😉

  12. You say you dislike one-word sentences. Why?

    Putting that point that way is obviously far more telling than putting it this way: ‘Why do you dislike one-word sentences.’

    Your expression of distaste is also misspelt. It is ‘one-word sentences,’ not ‘one word sentences’, which is meaningless.

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    The author’s name is A. Parody? LOL!

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Nobilangelo Ceramalus is Having a Hysteria of Hyphenation! Resuscitate!!!

  15. How to write .. good!?!?

    How to write well.


  16. Rajini Rao says:

    Bart Locanthi is missing #irony 😉

  17. Ya think that might have been a tip-off, Bart Locanthi ?

  18. Oh duh .. never mind, nothing to see here.

  19. Jim Carver says:

    Our Prof. of English told us to write CCC, clear, complete and concise. If she was alive today she would die of a heart attack reading some of the things that get posted. But not this post, she would love it. 🙂

  20. Rajini Rao says:

    Ah, but she was alliterating. I love her already.

  21. But shouldn’t that be ” to write Clearly, Completely, and Concisely”, and not in adjective form?

  22. Jim Carver says:

    William McGarvey No, it was technical English. 🙂

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Writing ought to be clear, complete, and concise. How does that read, William McGarvey ? Note use of the Oxford comma 🙂

  24. A preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.

  25. Reads fine, Rajini Rao , because what’s being modified is a noun (writing) and not a verb (to write).

  26. Mary W. says:

    I like my exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Also, my auto-correct has a mind of its own 🙂

  27. Jim Carver says:

    Christopher Andersen A Texas Aggie goes over to Harvard and gets lost. He is forced to ask one of the Harvardites some directions and says, “Sir, where’s the library at?”. The Harvard man replies, “At Harvard, we are taught not to end sentences with prepositions. ”

    The Aggie says, “Ok,.. where’s the library at asshole?”

  28. Mary W. says:

    Come on, this is GP…not graduate school!!!!!!!!! There goes those exclamation marks again…sorry 🙂

  29. I keep ending sentences with the wrong refrigerator.

  30. Christopher Andersen you probably heard Winston Churchill’s relevant comment:  “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put”

  31. Always have someone else proof read. If they find any mistakes tell them they’re wrong also stay away from run on sentences not just one word sentences and don’t fear commas or semi colons let people breathe when they read the mess you’re writing.

    That was painful for me to type.

  32. Imagine your readers’ joy Mike Rector — when you stopped.

  33. Rajini Rao says:

    Ouch, even in jest these are terrible! How will my delicate sensibilities recover? (Rhetorical question)

  34. I like to use their instead of there and is instead of was. (Thank somebody for my grammar checker) And, I never use exclamation points!!!!!!!!   🙂  Alliterating at times is one of my specialties. I try to avoid all YOU’s except when it is necessary for YOU guys!!!

  35. Mary W. says:

    I realy liked John Christophers quote froom Winstin churchil!!!!!! I learned alot?!!!

  36. Rajini Rao says:

    Hehe, here comes the Alot monster 🙂

  37. One of my fav’s…I use it alot.

  38. Kevin Clift says:

    My brother, who studied biology, said that the rule was why use one simple word when several long ones would do.

  39. Mary W. says:

    I see alot of peoples like this post Rajini Rao? Arent you super happy?!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!

  40. Kevin Clift says:

    Did someone point to the Plain English Society yet?:

  41. There was indeed ALOT of information on that link Rajini Rao I will have to study it in depth before stopping the checker! 

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    True. Or rather, that is an indubitably accurate assessment of our predilection towards superfluous verbiage.

    (Trying to avoid one-word sentences. Please note hyphen, Nobilangelo Ceramalus ).

  43. The really long Scientific words help with clarity and getting the point across. So alot of people will understand what is being said!  I agree with Kevin Clift 

  44. Mary W. says:

    You all talkin’ over my head (i’m 4’10)!!!!!!!!

  45. Rajini Rao says:

    Peter Lindelauf disapproves of exclamation points and emoticons. Watch out, Mary Owens !!! 🙂

    Checking it out, Kevin Clift .

  46. Mary W. says:

    Oh oh for me then!!!!

  47. Gotta go………sure’s been alot fun…. bye 🙂

  48. Jim Carver says:

    Cheryl Ann MacDonald, Psy’D. I uniformitarianly agree with your synopsis of the promulgation of the use of smaller-more-understandable words may have a deleterious effect on the communications that scientists must use to fully convey the meaning and specific substance as it pertains to the nuance of said communication.

  49. Well written Jim Carver. YOU is right on target and I liked it, once again alot.

  50. Rajini Rao says:

    The gobbledegook generator is wonderful: “We need a more blue-sky approach to holistic administrative resources”. My memos are going to be the epitome of efficacy.

  51. Ha Ha Rajini Rao. My memo’s are in perfect order to enhance efficacy and efficiency. Now I just have to read em. Have a good day all!

  52. Rajini Rao says:

    Farewell for now, Cheryl Ann MacDonald, Psy’D. !

    Mahesh Sreekandath , do you have a musical interpretation of obfuscation?

  53. The Dudes says:

    My red flag: Whenever I see: “In other words…”. If rephrasing your statement in other words makes your thought more clear, go with that wording and delete the prior sentence.

  54. Jim Carver says:

    Chris McNorgan I like to leave people with choices. If you got it the first time, then skip it. It’s not like to have to dig a trench.

  55. lol I self edit a lot. Tell me about it!

  56. Hahahahaha! Thanks for this helpful list Rajini Rao. I’ll try my best to follow as much of these I can.

  57. Know your reader!! Do you have to write stilted and lifeless or can you write like you mean it!!

  58. Sreek Menon says:

    Rajini Rao 

    While I was trying to figure out the meaning of some of the words you used, I found out one spelling mistake in your post. Yippee me !!

  59. Rajini Rao Avoid puns – they are for children, not groan readers.

  60. OMG haven’t laughed this hard in awhile! Thanks Rajini Rao !

  61. Have I ever mentioned that I used to help Corran grade essays when he was a prof?  I’m still recovering.  The hyperbole…oh the hyperbole…

  62. Ear … to … Ear. 🙂

  63. Rajini Rao says:

    Excellent application of Writing Good rules, Thex Dar ! Thanks, Feisal Kamil for the link. The reddit site mentioned that the list was “older than the internet”. I think Safire qualifies for that.

  64. Good writing is a myth; there is only good rewriting ….. trim trim trim

    Writing columns or very short stories is great training methinks

  65. Rajini Rao says:

    Terry Hallett , reminds me of a friend who complained that at first he had to write like our thesis advisor (a taciturn Brit), then like his postdoctoral mentor (flowery and verbose) until finally he became an independent scientist only to realize that he had no idea how he would write.

    By the way, I find it much easier to rewrite what someone else has written, than to start from scratch 🙂

  66. Rajini Rao says:

    Feisal Kamil Then there is the entire language of scientific obfuscation that has been translated into real English:

  67. As verbose as I am, I actually found Twitter to be excellent training for tightening writing, Terry Hallett. 🙂

  68. Zia Anwar says:

    thanks for nice post

  69. LOL,great post and lovely to meet you Rajini Rao !

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    Same here, Kim Crawford . Thanks for adding me to your circles 🙂

  71. And thank you too Rajini Rao !

  72. Like Terry says, short stories, you know, like War And Peace, Crime And Punishment, & ect.   Like this,”Distracted by an attractive lass, he stepped into the street, was hit by a truck and killed. The End”,

  73. How to write good, is to pretend you are explaining something to a child ( ) . If you can’t answer your own writing in a way a child could understand, you might be putting to much thought into your writing :)!

  74. Rajini Rao says:

    My writing caused the blablameter to crash: “Following acute acid load using NH4Cl prepulse, Na+-dependent intracellular pH (pHi) recovery was monitored fluorometrically using the pH-sensitive dye BCECF. Despite the favorable ion gradients in both directions (Hin+/Naout+), there was no significant difference in rates of pHi recovery (i.e., H+ efflux) between control and NHA2-GFP overexpressing cells (Figure 4A and C; 0.14± 0.0312 and 0.16± 0.0282 ΔpH units/minute, respectively).” 

  75. Rajini Rao says:

    Only because superscripts and subscripts were omitted. Otherwise, it would make perfect sense. Of course.

  76. I just tried a thing I posted about genre at goodreads and it couldn’t find any problems.  Heh. 😀

  77. Rajini Rao says:

    Kimberly Chapman  is going to write my research papers henceforth.

  78. Rajini Rao Making bullshit sound like not-bullshit is my specialty. 😀

  79. Surely you can right gooderer then that!

  80. Rajini Rao says:

    That was my goodest best, Terry Hallett ! The blablameter is broken. 

  81. hahaha, yer dune grate.

  82. Rajini Rao this is so cute.  my favorite: “• And always be sure to finish what”

  83. Rajini Rao says:

    Delighted to see this old post resurface! I’m writing again, and could do with some reminders.

  84. Writing… Hard it is..

  85. Rajini Rao I poofread that… nothing wrong. 🙂

  86. Rajini Rao says:

    Glad you got that rite, Pastiche – able 🙂

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