I grew up in the United States and currently live in Amsterdam. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in literature, languages, and writing in various forms. Before coming to Amsterdam, I worked as a full-time university instructor in English for almost a decade. Someday I'll calculate how many student papers I've read! Nowadays, I still spend most of my time with language: writing, reading, editing, tutoring English, and trying valiantly to learn Dutch.
Writing tip: When writing academic essays, your language should only be as complex as your ideas require. If you find yourself searching for a fancier way to say something simple, stop yourself. The thesaurus is sometimes your friend--but mostly not.
I was passionate about the English language even before I could actually read. When I was three, my mother would buy me audio books for children, and I would pop the cassettes into my parents’ massive cassette player and spend hours listening to the narrator’s smooth baritone. English was my best subject in school, and after I graduated, there was no question in my mind about which subject I wanted to study in college. I obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s in English, and I will soon obtain a diploma in creative writing.
I have been working as an editor ever since I graduated college, and it gives me great joy to edit papers written by others and to guide them to become better writers in English. My writing tip is as follows:
Write down everything that comes to mind when composing the first draft of the thesis. Then, go over the paper and edit out whatever seems irrelevant. This leads to a more coherent paper. If you’re finding it difficult to distinguish between what is irrelevant and what is not, then that’s OK! That happens when you’re stressed out and have a lot to writing to do. Put the paper aside and take a quick 20-minute break. Go out for a walk, get a cup of coffee, or do some stretching exercises. This helps your brain to relax, and when you return to your paper, you may even have some fresh insights!
I have always loved languages and have formally studied Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and German as well as the nuances of my own native English. I completed my B.A. at Washington University in St. Louis, where I specialized in Language, Culture, and Cognition and Spanish Literature.
I currently live in Mexico City and spend my time teaching English, visiting my favorite parks and markets, attending electronic music concerts, and writing and editing as a freelancer. I'm interested in critical theory, materialist feminism, and cities.
Tip for writing in English: Avoid passive constructions as much as possible. It can be tempting to use them because they are so common in academic writing, but your writing will often be clearer and more compelling if you focus on using the active voice.
My background is in Literature and Philosophy in which I have a PhD from the University of Sydney. I have worked for a number of years as a university lecturer teaching courses in literature, writing studies and critical thinking in Australia and New Zealand. I have also taught ESL as having a Japanese father and European mother meant growing up with an awareness of the vagaries of language. I have been in love with words since my mother first began reading me bedtime stories and, for this reason, desire always that every word be treated with respect. What does that look like? It means using the right word in the right place at the right time. Doing so almost guarantees that your readers will want to keep reading because they can fully grasp the ideas being communicated. How is it achieved? Curiosity. Curiosity about what it means to really think well, curiosity about those who have done so, and the certain knowledge that it is a skill that can be learned.
After graduating with a degree in English, I found myself drawn to helping writers of all skill levels improve their prose and to teaching others about the rules and standards of English grammar. I work as a freelance editor and writing tutor, and I love that I am able to help others while learning about a variety of topics and subjects. I aim for high-quality, helpful, and accurate editing in every project that I take on, and I'm always looking forward to what the next project has to offer.
English Tip: Brevity is key. If there is a shorter, simpler way to say something, it is probably the best way to go.
I like hats. Metaphorical hats, mainly, although I have nothing against a good fedora, and I have a decided weakness for cowboy hats. My metaphorical hats are what most folks call "projects", but saying "I have too many hats" sounds much less whiny than "I have too many projects".
My current hats include being the CMO of a romance publishing company, a published author with two new "hats" under contract and two in development, a freelance writer, and an editor for SCRIBBR. And when I'm not wearing one of those hats, I'm reading, playing video games, taking my dog on PokeWalks (Pokemon Go), and playing around with the prospect of going back to school.
By most lights, I have too many school "hats" as it is: a BA from the University of Michigan with Honors from the Medieval and Renaissance Collegium; an MA from the University of Chicago in the History of Art; a JD (law) from the University of Colorado at Boulder; and most of an LLM from the University of British Columbia, Canada. But I've recently gotten passionate about Jewish history and art, so who knows how many hats I'll have next year?
In the meantime, I love editing, because I get to read and learn while helping others, which are three of my favorite things combined. Of course, getting paid so I can continue to live in my beloved Boulder doesn't hurt anything, either.
If I had to give you just one tip for your academic writing, it would be this: breathe. Breathe when you're panicking about writing it. Breathe when you're starting a section, paragraph, sentence... Seriously, breathe. Your anxiety gets in the way of writing clearly, and in the haste to get through it, you rush your writing.
That's actually my other big tip: Don't rush it. Take the time to unpack your ideas. Remember that you're the expert, and lead your reader sentence by sentence through your paper. If you keep this in mind, you'll write clearer sentences, stronger paragraphs, and better papers. Write to share your knowledge, not to finish a paper.
And remember, it doesn't have to be perfect. That's what I'm here for!
Currently based in Amsterdam, I was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia and have also lived in France. I have taught music (one of the most beautiful languages of all) and English as a private tutor and editor for a decade. I have intermediate fluency in French and am currently learning Dutch, so I understand the frustrations of trying to make yourself understood in a new language.
My tip for writing academically in English: eschew obfuscation. This is an ironic and memorable way to remind students to avoid being unclear. Fledgling academics often feel tempted to use rare or sophisticated words when a more simple term or phrase would be enough. State your point, support it with evidence, and avoid any possible confusion in the reader’s mind. Save the poetry for when you write your next novel!
Also: Microsoft Word’s “synonyms” function is not always your friend! Synonyms are loaded with nuance; they are to be used with caution.
Having been born and raised in Atlantic Canada, I am a native English speaker. I completed an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and English, followed by a degree in law. I have been a member of my provincial law society for almost 20 years, and I currently draft legislation when I am not editing papers for SCRiBBR. Legislative drafting is a very demanding discipline that has both accentuated my ability to express ideas clearly and improved my eye for detail. I love finding precisely the right word to convey an idea. I also enjoy applying these skills to the academic theses of students in many disciplines, because it gives me an opportunity to learn something new with each assignment.
Language has always been my passion, and I have formally studied English, Ancient Greek, Ancient Hebrew, and Spanish. That knowledge of how language works has helped me live out my other passion: teaching others to use language. My experience includes a year of EFL instruction in Mexico and five years of high school English, Spanish, and Latin.
I also recently earned a master's degree in education, writing my thesis on how to increase students' intrinsic motivation. That experience in the world of academia and research was so fulfilling that I now use my love of teaching and language to help other academics create their best possible work.
Writing tip: The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, "If you wish to be a writer, write." It's true!
I'm a native English speaker and an experienced editor. I really enjoy helping people to write effectively. During my career, I've edited over 750 books, working for various international publishers including Edinburgh University Press and Collins. For Edinburgh Napier University, I managed the distance-learning publications programme, which was a great way to get to know the work of all the departments in the university. One of the biggest challenges in my career was to organise editorial work - against the clock - on creating the Chambers Encyclopedic English English Dictionary, which had 1,724 pages. It was a big job! I run a publishing and writing consultancy and live near Edinburgh in Scotland. When I'm not working, I love nature photography and tennis.
Tip for writing: however complex the concept that you want to explain, your writing style should always help your reader to understand - and it should never be an obstacle to comprehension! The majority of people, including published authors, write their text and never read it themselves. It's important to take a break after writing: either work on something completely different for a while or, ideally, go away from your computer and think about something else. When you come back to it, imagine that you are the person who will read your text and then read the whole text from beginning to end. You will see it with a fresh eye and you will find many elements that you can easily improve or refine. If you can bear to do this twice, you will reap even more benefits!
Language has always fascinated me, and the decision to study English at university was easily made. I haven't regretted it once! After getting my BA in English Language & Culture at the University of Groningen, I did an MA in Writing, Editing and Mediating, which I finished earlier this year. Whether I'm editing a text or writing my own - playing around with words is one of my favourite things to do. Literature was my first love (although music comes in at a close second), which makes my part time job at a book store a whole lot of fun.
A quick tip for writing in English: Google is your friend! If you're not sure whether or not you're using a word or phrase correctly - do a quick Google search and see what you find. I'm supposed to be an expert, and I still do this all the time...
I’m a native of Alabama and I have just recently been naturalised as a citizen of the Netherlands. I’ve been here 6 years and I love this country, except for the weather. I have a degree in music, but I’ve spent that last 11 years teaching English as a foreign language in Japan, the Czech Republic and back in the States in New York City. I currently work for a private language school in The Hague and enjoy editing on the side.
Tip for writing in English: Sentences are shorter in English. Most experts would agree that clear writing should have an average sentence length of 15 to 20 words. This does not mean making every sentence the same length. Vary your writing by mixing short sentences with longer ones.
I've grown up all over the world, being born in Malaysia and living in India and China. Most of my life has been in Britain, however, and I have just finished a BA in History at the University of Oxford. Now living in the Netherlands, looking for work in the NGO sector, I enjoy acting, singing, and reading interesting theses!
I'm a native English speaker born and raised in the US, but I've adopted French and Arabic as secondary languages. I received my undergraduate degree from Harvard, which is also where I first began doing academic editing. As a long-time Arabic student, I understand what it's like to write papers in a non-native language -- I've spent many a night frustratedly flipping through dictionaries and grammar references. I've been editing and proofreading academic texts for several years, and as an academic myself, I love reading about practically any subject that comes my way.
English writing tip: Less is more. If you can remove extraneous words from a sentence or rephrase something to make it shorter, do so! English writing prizes clarity and conciseness, and flowery sentences can often obscure your meaning or make it difficult for the reader to follow your train of thought.
I came to proofreading in 2005, after recognising that I could be putting to good use my lifelong love of words, and competence with the English language – as well as to supplement my part-time work as a Complementary Therapist. I had studied English, Philosophy, and Classics at University, and had opted for Classics as my main degree. After ten years of proofreading a wide range of scripts – from marketing materials and websites, to guide books and novels – it was good to get immersed in academic texts again through Scribbr. I find the process of polishing a script, and making it ‘shine’, very satisfying, as well as getting to read about subjects I’d not otherwise encounter outside of this work. I like too the subtle art of correcting a text so that there is a seamless blending-in with the style and ‘feel’ of the client’s writing.
In terms of advice – well, there’s so much good advice on this site already… But I just want to say, in defence of grammar and punctuation, that it exists in order to help us communicate better with each other. It isn’t a form of punishment, or intended to make writing a trial (though it can seem that way sometimes!), but to give clarity and help us avoid confusion and misunderstanding. For that reason, I’m glad to be ‘doing my bit’ in upholding it, and helping ensure, in this ‘techy’ age, it’s still alive and well!
I live in South Africa and am proud to call it home.
I am an independent translator/editor for a prominent publisher in South Africa, which I balance with the academic demands that editing theses placed on me. As a translator, I understand the mental gymnastics needed by students who are not writing in their mother tongue.
My advice to students who have a hard time with English:
If you have accepted the challenge of studying in a language that is not your home language, you have my greatest respect and admiration, and I will gladly help you polish your writing to perfection.
I grew up in the U.S. in New England (Massachusetts), so English is my native language. I have my B.A. in Russian Language and Linguistics, have spent time in Russia, and am a fluent Russian speaker. My interest in copyediting comes from my love of both reading and problem solving. I like figuring out how to make writing more beautiful and meaning more clear.
I am also a musician. I have a Master of Music degree in Early Music Vocal Performance, and I specialize in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. I also teach music classes for infants and toddlers, who come to class with a parent. We simply have fun with music for forty-five minutes. It is like language immersion, only it is music immersion. The two learning processes are remarkably similar, and I believe that with the proper exposure and support in the years of early childhood, every child can learn to enjoy and participate actively in making music. Music-making is for everyone, not just professionals.
Tip for Writing in English: In English, possessives are usually formed by adding an apostrophe and an "s" to the end of a word, as in "Einstein's theory". We very rarely use the construction (which is common in other languages) "the theory of Einstein" – it often sounds awkward in English, although it is not technically incorrect. There is an exception to adding the apostrophe and "s": if you are referring to a pluralized family name, such as "the Smiths", the possessive is formed by adding only the apostrophe, as in "I had dinner at the Smiths' house".
I am a PhD student in Archaeology at a major Midwestern university with a decade of experience in editing, proofreading, and translation. I studied everything from English Literature to History and Gaelic Studies during my undergraduate degree, and I still get excited whenever I can learn about a new discipline. In other words, I look forward to reading your theses and papers!
My writing tip isn't about writing at all; instead, I want to encourage anyone hoping to become a strong writer to read. Reading high-quality writing, whether it's John Banville's amazing novels or Ta-Nehisi Coates' top-notch journalism, is the best way to learn how to compose a text with an easy flow, clear argument, and elegant style.
When surrounded by geo-jargon during my Geology MSci studies, I came to realise that my passion really lies in trying to simplify and communicate information. I always secretly enjoyed working on reports and diagrams just as much as the content itself and this led me to discover editing (although I do still love a good rock). Based in London, I currently work for an independent science and technology publisher on manuscripts translated from French. I'm also lucky to work with SCRiBBR on a range of assignments, where it's great fun to learn new things and work closely with so many different writing styles.
Tip for writing in English: do not fear simplicity - the best way to communicate a complex process to your reader is to break it down into concise steps, remembering how you first learned to understand it!
I am a California native who has an instinct for grammar and a passion for philosophising. I was educated in both the United States and the United Kingdom, so I am comfortable with both versions of English. Indeed, my qualifications have been rather international; I have just completed an International Business Law LLM in the Netherlands following my graduation from Oxford University with a BA in Jurisprudence.
My editing experience was gained largely whilst working for several law firms, but I have a soft spot for the sciences and have always been able to engage with technical work. Recently, I have been conducting research into pharmaceutical regulation, which often involves dissecting texts in both medical and economics journals. Formulating persuasive arguments is part and parcel of my academic pursuits, so I value the opportunity to develop the breadth of my knowledge by reading others' writing. Editing is effectively another way for me to keep up with my various interests.
Writing tip: It is easy to get carried away with the descriptive power of synonyms in the English language. However, I would advise that you only use words that you understand in your writing because many synonymous words carry certain nuances. 'Synonyms' may not mean what you think they mean!
After completing my BA in English Literature and Linguistics, I headed out to Asia in the Spring of 2001 to teach budding young minds the language of Shakespeare, eventually becoming the headteacher of the largest literature academy in Seoul. I spend most of my days muttering about subject-verb agreement while fending off questions from young adults about why there aren't more apocalyptic dystopias on the curriculum.
Writing tip: One of the most troublesome aspects of writing in English is the use of prepositions. I have old students who are now experienced interpreters and translators who still email me with questions about them. I've seen students try to memorise them by printing out a sheet of the most commonly used ones, or devise complex mnemonics in order to hold them in their heads for a test. This is all very gruelling. Surely, the best way to learn prepositions is organically, by sitting down in a comfortable chair with a good novel, or reading as many articles in English as possible. It doesn't really matter what kind of thing you read, just as long as you read it regularly. The main reason my old students forgot their prepositions was because they stopped reading in English.
Born in England and raised in and around Chicago, USA, I now live in Amsterdam. I studied history of art at the University of Edinburgh and the Universiteit van Amsterdam, specialising in 17th c. Dutch painting, especially Rembrandt's late work. I am also a painter myself.
In addition to English, I speak French, am working on my Dutch, and have also studied Spanish, Italian, and Bengali in the past. Having had to speak and write as a non-native myself, I understand the frustrations and small joys that come with expressing yourself in another language.
I love the sheer variety of texts that I get to read as an editor for SCRiBBR, as well as the satisfaction of helping students communicate their ideas more clearly.
My current favourite word is 'scombroid'. It means 'mackerel-like'.
Writing tips: In the short-term, one of the best things you can do is read your text out loud. This makes it much easier to spot redundancies, run-on sentences, awkward rhythm, and simple mistakes. Over the long term, read widely and find things that you love. This will not only teach you grammar and vocabulary, but will also help you feel more at home in the language.
I was born and raised in South Africa, but I’ve had the opportunity to travel and live in many countries: the USA, England, but mostly in South-East Asia and the Far East. After graduating with a degree in English and Philosophy, I qualified as a teacher, specialising in English and Business Studies. I’ve taught English as a first language for a long, long time, and EFL for more than 15 years, so I suppose you could say I’ve been ‘editing’ all my working life. At the moment, I mentor MSc and PhD students for whom English is a second or third language. I love seeing them reach the point where they don’t need me anymore, and our language sessions become coffee breaks!
In the process of learning new languages myself, from Mandarin to isiXhosa, has made language teaching fascinating as I've shared the difficulties that my students experience. Helping them find ways to overcome those difficulties has been hugely rewarding.
A tip about writing: just DO it, and don’t expect to get it right the first time. Like any good craftsman, start with the rough outline, chop out the bits that don’t belong, add in bits that make it more satisfying, and then polish and refine it until you have something that you feel proud of. It takes time and practice, but every step is worth it. And ... don't leave it until the last minute!
I hold a BA degree in English Language and Culture and an MA degree in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies. I have a passion for reading, collecting books, languages, and editing.
For me, being an editor is like being a detective. You hunt for mistakes to correct and clues to help uncover the writer’s intent; I love the thrill of finding that one mistake or clue. Another advantage is that editing satisfies my thirst for knowledge as I learn so much when plunging into a new project.
A writing tip: try to avoid using the same words and phrases throughout your text. It is nicer for the reader to have some variation, so do not be afraid to use synonyms. Yet, bear in mind that you cannot blindly trust a thesaurus.
“Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto.” – P.G. Wodehouse, Meet Mr. Mulliner
Hello. I'm a historian and a philosopher. I've spent several years at Australian and New Zealand universities cramping my hands over keyboards and teaching classes in the history of science and philosophy. It has always bugged me that there are so few services available to students for help with writing. Writing an essay isn't easy, and many of my students don't speak English as a first language. Now I'm happy to be doing some editing work alongside writing my own articles, to help people say what they want to in academic English.
As for a tip? 'Write drunk; edit sober' was what Ernest Hemingway is supposed to have said. I tried it for a while - it's lousy advice. And despite his reputation, it's unlikely Papa followed it either (or even said it). But maybe there's still a lesson to be learnt from him. For my money, a lot of the clearest, most vivid English writing is composed from short, concise sentences. Think Hemingway, or Joan Didion. But whatever your preference, when you read - fiction, academic articles, magazines, whatever - it will influence you and change how you go about your writing too. So read good writers!
I'm a Minneapolis native who spent three years after university studying, living, and working abroad in both Russia and the Netherlands. During my time in the Netherlands, I attended Leiden University and received my Master of Arts in Russian and Eurasian studies, graduating Cum Laude. I managed to find time for my coursework in between bicycling around the city, eating fresh stroopwafels, and traveling to Belgium once in a while to sample beer and chocolate. My Master's thesis focused on Russian performance art, and portions of my research are set for publication in the peer-reviewed journal "Russian Literature" in 2017.
Before pursuing my MA, I worked for two years as an English language instructor in St. Petersburg. In order to teach EFL in the Russian Federation, I had to take TEFL training and received formal certification. I enjoyed teaching EFL classes and helping my students improve their English language skills, and I also spent some of this time as a student myself, taking Russian language lessons to help me chat more freely with the "Sankt Peterburzh'si." My EFL teaching experience gave me a great background in the grammatical mechanics of English, and my love of teaching led me to work at SCRiBBR, where I continue to help students polish their formal writing and improve their academic English.
My tip for students tackling academic writing is to read as much formal writing as they can in their discipline and take careful note of the pervading style. Different fields have different writing conventions, so no particular academic style is one-size-fits-all. I'd also advise students to be careful when using linking, comparing, and transitional words and phrases- sometimes direct translations can yield strange results, so this is always a good place to double check your English vocabulary knowledge!
I grew up in El Paso, Texas and now live and work in Durham, North Carolina in the U.S. I got a B.S. in psychology and English from Duke University and an MFA in creative writing and translation from Columbia University. I taught English in Turkey for one year after college, which was a fascinating experience and helped me understand the ins-and-outs of the English language from the perspective of ESL students. I have also worked in publishing for a few years and currently work as a freelance writer and editor. I spend the rest of my time reading, cooking, hiking, and playing with my little brown hound.
I grew up in a bilingual household, so I grew up fascinated by language, its similarities and differences in different languages, and the complexities of its construction. This inherent interest in language led me to a life of writing, editing, and translating.
Writing tip: Less is more. Often, trying to "sound smart," using unfamiliar synonyms, or trying to write complicated sentences to make writing sound formal can backfire. There's nothing wrong with sticking with simpler constructions—and they often make your writing smoother and your points clearer.
I have decades of editing experience in fields ranging from the arts and humanities to science, medicine, psychology, and marketing. Most recently, I edited the upcoming book “Cultures in Bioethics” by internationally renowned scholar Hans-Martin Sass, formerly of the Kennedy Institute for Ethics. As the founding editor of a literary book review that ran for 10 years, I received the Women’s National Book Association’s “Bookwoman of the Year” award (for an “enduring and unique contribution to the world of books and through books, to society”) at a U.S. Library of Congress ceremony. I have a Master's degree in English Literature from the University of Virginia.
I am from Cape Town, South Africa, and have a BA Hons from the University of Cape Town. Before becoming a freelance editor, I worked for the South African parliament as a translator and editor for more than 20 years. As a freelancer, I have gained experience in a wide range of language-related skills, and have experience of editing and proofreading manuscripts, theses, academic articles and educational material, and translating a wide variety of texts. I enjoy editing because I love the challenge of taking a text and making it the best it can be. Also, it’s great fun to broaden my general knowledge by reading about different subjects!
Writing Tip: If you have any doubt about what a word means, look it up in a dictionary. A thesaurus is your friend. Writing with a thesaurus next to you (or using an online thesaurus) will assist you to find the most appropriate word to express what you wish to say. Also, remember that you express yourself most clearly when you use simple sentence structures.
I’m an Australian-based freelance editor/proofreader. I came to editing after a journey through many other professions (including public relations) and business enterprises, and helping friends and relatives with their writing projects. I have a Bachelor of Arts with a triple major (Education, Sociology and German). My interests include hockey, swimming, reading, writing, music and drinking coffee.
Editing is ‘home’ for me: I love the written word and I love to learn. Editing provides me with many words and a wide range of learning experiences!
Writing English: ‘Keep it simple’ is always best. As a general rule, English sentences are not complex: don’t complicate them.
I was born in Australia (but of Maori descent), and I am currently living in Amsterdam where I work as a translator and copy editor. Words have always fascinated me; their meanings, their sounds, and even their shape on the page! This love has inspired my many studies and careers in the past: I have studied Fine Art and Education (among others) and I have worked as a medievalist, university lecturer and high school teacher. What I enjoy the most about being a SCRiBBR editor is that I get to read new texts all the time and use my skills to help students.
My one tip for students would be to read their work out loud, especially those passages that you are having difficulty with - you'd be surprised how many mistakes you can pick up just by 'listening' to your writing!
A native English speaker, I am an American born in Texas and raised in Indiana. I now live in Nebraska where I completed my B.A. in English and German. I enjoy working as an editor, where I get to immerse myself in the art of written expression while helping others improve their writing abilities. Quite fond of learning about other languages and cultures, I am also a voracious fiction reader, a lover of nature and the outdoors, and an avid student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Writing tip: Perhaps less conventional, but take a break from writing and crack open a book! Reading forces your brain to process line after line of properly written text. This exposure helps imprint on your mind acceptable language use for whichever language you are trying to improve for writing. The more complex constructions of language likely to be found in a published book sharpens your general written language knowledge, allowing you to better apply key principles and established conventions to your writing.
I grew up in New Hampshire, USA, and later shipped off to Baltimore where I studied sociology and philosophy at Goucher College. I later moved to Prague to work as an English teacher to young language learners, and I stayed a few years longer than planned. I’ve since moved on to live in the Netherlands in pursuit of an M.A. in Culture Studies, and I’m thrilled further expand my educational horizons by reading and editing papers for Scribbr!
Tip: Everyone makes mistakes while writing, but each mistake is a chance to improve!
I am a Canadian expat living in Taipei. I hold a BA (hons) in English and another BA in anthropology. I am a freelance editor and an ESL writing teacher and tutor, and I study computer science and web development on the side. I have extensive experience working with professionals and academics coming to English from another language at all levels, from utter beginner to native fluency, and from many different fields.
I love editing because I love helping authors develop and improve their writing, and I love to learn about new topics from the writers I work with.
Language tip: Everyone needs an editor. It is a quality of the human brain to gloss over information we already know or have seen before, so we can miss mistakes when we are too close to our own writing. To edit your own writing, it helps to take a break from it so you're coming to it later with fresh eyes. It can also help to try reading your paper from the bottom sentence upwards, or try printing and reading it away from the screen, to trick your brain into thinking it's reading something new.
I'm an American living in Europe, enjoying dense city life. I studied English literature at New York University, then worked in publishing for three years. There, I worked for specialized in the odd combination of thrillers, mysteries set in small towns with abnormally high homicide rates, and erotic romance novels of the 50 Shades variety. So, in short, I've been exposed to a lot of ridiculous writing. I am currently teaching English as a foreign language, so I am well aware of all the difficult nuances of the English language!
Writing tip: "Of" as a possessive is not used as often as you would think. When you're talking about the relationship between two people and a person and an object, you should use 's. But more importantly, describing the relationship between two objects or ideas, you can place the possessing noun in an adjectival position. So instead of writing "the color of her hair," you can write, "her hair color." This construction facilitates clarity.
A Virginia native, I graduated with a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Virginia. Shortly after graduation, I moved 5000 miles away from home to Cairo, Egypt and began working in communications. Having a communications position right out of college challenged me to become a better writer and editor, and now I'm excited to help others improve their own writing by working as an editor at SCRiBBR.
Writing Tip: Make a "mind map" before your start writing to help yourself figure out exactly what you want to say. This will help you structure your argument. It will also help you make your writing clear and concise.
I grew up in a small rural town in Western Pennsylvania and received a BA in sociology and international affairs from Gettysburg College. Now I’m living and working in Cairo, Egypt. Living here has given me a much greater appreciation of just how difficult it is for people to function professionally in a second language. I’m excited to work with Scribbr and to help students both improve their papers and learn how to become better writers. For me, editing is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You have to rearrange and tweak the pieces until all of the words fit together logically and the writer’s meaning is clear. It’s also a great way to read and learn about new topics!
Writing tip: If you know that you struggle with a specific aspect of writing, make an effort to notice and correct it in your next academic paper. To give an example, when I was in secondary school, I had a tendency to repeatedly use the same words in my writing. To correct this, my teacher limited me to using a word (other than strictly necessary ones like articles and the verb “to be”) no more than three times in a single paragraph. After months of painstakingly editing my papers and researching appropriate synonyms, the work started to become much easier. My writing style also became much more dynamic. Scribbr feedback letters are a great place to learn about areas for improvement!
I'm a Michigan native and currently live in Tennessee. I have a degree in Music Business and have always been passionate about writing and language. As a native English speaker working on French and Italian, I understand the difficulties and frustrations of not being able to express yourself as well as you'd like with a new language.
My favorite aspects of editing are that I get to help students strengthen their academic writing skills and become more confident writers.
One of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quotes comes from his memoirs, A Moveable Feast, when he struggles with writer's block. Hemingway looks out over the roofs of Paris and thinks, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now."
Although Hemingway's words were in reference to a different kind of writing, it's easy to get discouraged in the world of academic writing as well. Sometimes it helps to step back, take a deep breath, and know that the words will come to you.
Another tip I have for writing is to read, read, read! When you experience different types of vocabulary and varieties of sentence construction through reading, you will inevitably become a better writer.
I'm a PhD candidate in anthropology, currently living in Groningen. I have two masters' degrees (from two great universities!) and have taught academic writing to incoming first-year university students. I love seeing students' writing improve and it's a great feeling to know that I've helped them do that! Plus, I love reading all of the topics that Scribbr students are researching. There's so much to learn!
Writing tip (in English or otherwise): Try reading your paper aloud, after you think you're finished writing. It will help you focus on details that you've been staring at for too long, and help you find your "voice." If it doesn't sound like something you'd say, or you don't know what a word means yourself, you should probably change it!
I currently live in the state of Kentucky after covering a good portion of the United States in previous legs of my journey. I earned my BA in Russian at the University of Tennessee and my PhD in Russian and Soviet literature at the University of Wisconsin. After initially pursuing an academic career, I decided to switch to translating and editing. I enjoy both because of the breadth of subject matter that I get to work with. While I am helping you improve your English, you are helping me learn about new subjects and ideas!
English writing tip: know and use the best reference resources. Use the most reputable dictionaries if possible: the Oxford English Dictionary for general reference and for British spelling and usage, and Webster for American English. Use corpora to check usages and collocations: the Corpus of Contemporary American English and the British National Corpus are available online for free and are incredibly useful. Learning how to use these will give you a valuable tool for years to come. Even as a native speaker and professional editor I find that I use these resources more, not less, as I get older.
I'm an editor and Spanish > English translator specializing in art, religion and gender. I hold a Master's in Hispanic Language and Literature from Boston University, where I also earned a Bachelor's in English and Spanish. I translate and edit mainly for museums and academic presses, though I am slowly but surely breaking into the world of literary translation.
Good thinking makes good writing. If you're feeling uninspired, take a step back and rethink your topic. Do you believe your own arguments? Are you invested in your paper's ideas? Try to tap into something you're passionate about and your paper will practically write itself.
I am an Australian currently living in Germany. I have always wanted to live in Europe, and in March 2015, I made the big move with all of my worldly possessions packed in a couple of suitcases. I adore the European lifestyle, and the people I have met so far have been friendly, welcoming, and very patient with my attempts to speak German! I have a Bachelors degree in Media, and recently completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology. In October, I will commence a Masters in Neuro-Cognitive Psychology in Munich. I have seven years professional experience in communications, public relations, and marketing, which has incorporated a great deal of proof-reading and editing. I have worked in a range of industries, from a professional sporting organisation, an animal welfare non-profit, and a couple of government agencies. My professional experience has included producing material ranging from media releases, articles, magazines, and speeches, to social media and website content, blogs, and corporate correspondence. Most recently, I was contracted to produce website content for the South Australian Government's principle research and development institute.
As well as enjoying the opportunity to work with a great team, being an editor at SCRiBBR satisfies my natural curiosity as I get the chance read interesting theses from varying fields. And best of all, it allows me to help non-native English speakers improve their academic English.
Tip: Non-native English speakers have trouble with many of the issues non-natives face. Be kind to yourself and learn from your mistakes. Ensure you make use of the SCRiBBR knowledge base articles, they’re a goldmine of helpful tips!
Also, in English, commas and decimal places are not always used in the same way, e.g. €1.50 not €1,50. Or 1.7% not 1,7%. And €435,000, not €435.000.
I currently live in Seattle, although I have lived and worked all over the world, including in Greece, Australia, and Nepal. I have an MA in Public Administration and a BA in English and Political Science. For the past 14 years, I have worked as a freelance and newspaper editor, and as a writer, researcher, and English teacher. My students include both native and non-native English speakers, and over the years I have taught everything from business English to Shakespeare.
My favorite part of teaching English is helping others to improve their writing. I pay very close attention to detail, and I assure you that I treat your papers and theses with as much care as if they were my own. Helping you to improve your written English and to succeed academically is extremely rewarding for me. The other amazing part of working for SCRiBBR is that I learn something new from every paper I edit.
When I am not working, you will most likely find me dangling off a cliff somewhere in the mountains. I am an avid rock climber and mountaineer, and I still occasionally work as a guide and outdoor educator.
Tip for Writing in English: Although he was not likely thinking about theses at the time, Albert Einstein had great advice for writers everywhere: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Keep your sentences as short and concise as you can, without sacrificing meaning. In many cases, two shorter sentences are much better than one longer sentence.
I live in Ohio with two daughters and three cats. I've been teaching English for ten years. I have degrees in literature and creative writing. Essentially, I love reading and writing and talking about reading and writing.
Writing Tip: Avoid passive voice, forms of the verb to be. Passive voice contributes to wordiness and dull writing. Whenever possible, use active, lively verbs.
I am a Hungarian–American, born and raised in the USA and currently living in Budapest. Before moving to Hungary, I worked in Holland as a freelance English instructor and editor, helping on countless theses and copy-editing two books. My work and personal academic experiences have provided me with an intensive exposure to academic writing and have fueled my obsessions with grammar and etymology!
In Budapest, I am working as an ESL teacher and freelance editor while attending a university program in Hungarian language. I love languages and have studied Latin, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese while earning a BA in international studies from Kenyon College (USA). After graduating, I moved to Shanghai where I earned an ESL degree and taught English full time.
I understand the common diffulties and problems faced when trying to master English, and I love helping my students not only correct, but also understand their mistakes so that they can be avoided in the future.
Writing tip: It is easy to get lost in specific terminology when describing a complex topic, and sentences often become lengthy, confusing, and equally as complex! I always encourage my students to try to be as clear as possible and try to read their own sentences from the perspective of someone who is not familiar with the topic. Clarity and consistency can go a long way in making a complex concept easy to understand.
Having grown up and been educated in the US, I’m a native English speaker, but I’ve been living in the Netherlands for the past 20 years. I’ve come to editing through the perhaps unexpected route of … math.
I am one of those strange beings who have always loved math, so it’s no surprise that I have a BS degree in Mathematics (from Haverford College, a liberal arts college just outside Philadelphia). After college, I went to work for a civil engineer, and then later at a series of health insurance companies. There I used my analytical skills to figure out how to model and measure all kinds of phenomena. And I discovered that what I really enjoyed was explaining complicated subjects in as easy a way as possible to managers, directors and others who don’t necessarily understand (or want to understand) all the details.
After working in New Hampshire (where I grew up), Philadelphia and New York City, I moved with my Dutch husband to the Netherlands. I edited his chemistry whitepapers for years while raising children and managing other projects in our busy household. Three years ago, I looked for flexible work that would take advantage of my educational, work and life experiences, and I started translating all sorts of texts from Dutch to English. I found that I really enjoy this, that this traditional translation is an extension of the ‘translation’ of difficult analytical concepts to ‘lay people’ in my previous line of work. Soon after, I discovered SCRiBBR, and I have found that my analytical approach and attention to detail can be very beneficial to thesis writers ;-). Try not to take my comments too personally – it’s just the analyst in me! The ultimate goal is to have your thesis make sense and be easily understandable to the people who read it.
Tip: Use the SCRiBBR knowledge base articles, particularly the one about the structure and organization of a thesis. Create a working Table of Contents and use it like a ‘coatrack’ to ‘hang’ your sections on. This will help keep your thoughts organized and at the same time help you keep track of what you still have to do.
My background is in the humanities. I hold a PhD in Medieval Art History, an MA in Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism, and BAs in Art History and French Language, Literature and Culture. I'm originally from Colorado, but have moved all over the US, and since 2013 I have been living and working in Paris.
Having just finished my own dissertation, I am intimately familiar with the challenges of academic writing, and am looking forward to passing along many of the tips and tricks that I learned along the way to you in my work as a SCRiBBR editor. I am also very well acquainted with the difficulties of writing in a foreign language. I am currently working to receive French equivalency for my American PhD - a process which includes re-writing or translating a good portion of my dissertation into French!
Additionally, I have experience as an ESL teacher, having spent a year working as an English teaching assistant in a high school outside of Grenoble, France. As an instructor at a large American university during my doctoral work, I also have many years of experience working with non-native English speakers in a university classroom. I'm happy to bring all of these years of experience to my work as an academic editor.
Writing tip: When you're feeling stuck, find a quiet place and read what you've written out loud! This can help you catch instances of awkward syntax, missing words, and repeated words or phrases. It also helps to give you a different "vision" of your text because it forces you to slow down and read each word carefully and consider your text in a new way.
I am a New Jersey native living in The Netherlands since August 2015. After receiving a BA in Anthropology and Religious Studies at a small liberal arts college in the United States, I moved to Utrecht to pursue a Master's degree in Gender Studies, which I have recently completed. My attraction to editing for SCRiBBR originates foremost from a desire to make use of my well-honed academic writing skills; however, since I am no longer a student for the first time in eighteen years, I am also quite excited by the range of subjects and disciplines I get to learn about from reading the work of SCRiBBR students! I suppose I must also admit that any opportunity to correct Dutch students' English makes me feel a bit better about the many corrections I get on my Dutch on a daily basis. ;)
Writing tip: A thesaurus can be a great tool for producing dynamic writing that is more lively with minimal repetition. For example, instead of analyzing something over and over, you can be inspecting, evaluating, and investigating it! However, be wary of a thesaurus's more "colorful" offerings, or you may end up sounding too old-fashioned (getting down to brass tacks), slangy (talking game), or even unexpectedly violent (beating a dead horse) - none of which will benefit your academic writing!
I was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Germany, France, and New York, where I attended International and American schools. English became my dominant and preferred language at a very young age, so I chose to continue my studies at international universities where I would be taught in English and be surrounded by English-speaking students. I completed my BA in Social Science with a focus on Psychology at University College Roosevelt (Middelburg, NL), and a Research Master in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. After graduating I worked with children with Autism and spent a few months traveling and volunteering in Southern Africa.
My interest in editing began during my MSc when international classmates came to me for help with their English academic writing. More recently, I have edited PhD students’ articles in preparation for publication. I greatly enjoy helping students improve their written English, and I get to be enlightened with new topics each time.
Writing tip! To get your ideas across clearly, keep your sentences simple and concise. By doing this you’ll make it easier for your readers to follow your train of thought and avoid losing their attention. There is also no need to use 'fancy' synonyms when regular words get the idea across just as well. Clarity is key!
Born in Sweden, raised and educated in English and having lived in Austria for many years, I am actually trilingual. English has, however, always been my first language, and the language closest to my heart. It was thus quite natural to pursue a career as a German>English translator. Meanwhile I have 30+ years of working experience, which includes consecutive interpretation, journalism, language teaching, and working as an international civil servant for various UN organisations. Now I and my husband Malcolm, who is an English writer and poet, very much enjoy working for SCRiBBR. We live in beautiful Wales.
As to tips for writing in English, there is no need to improve upon Orwell:
“If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”
And as a contemporary addition: stay away from online translations tools!
I come from the Philippines and am currently living in the Netherlands. I hold an honors degree in BA Journalism, a certificate in Professional Educational and an MA in Educational Psychology. I have been an English teacher for almost 15 years. I have taught various classes in speaking, reading, writing, literature, and research to high school students. I have authored two textbooks in English used by private schools in Manila.
Aside from attending my Dutch classes, I spend my time exploring every bookshelf at the public library and helping a number of students prepare for the Cambridge English Test.
Writing tip: KEEP IT SIMPLE. As Kurt Vonnegut puts it, “Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long.”
I was born in the south of England but have spent most of my adult life in North Wales, where as a mature student I gained an English degree at Bangor University. By practice and instinct I am a poet, and I ran for some years my own literary magazine before meeting my wife, Liz (who is also a SCRiBBR editor), and coming to live with her in Austria a few years ago. Literary work of one sort or another has always been the only kind of work I could ever take seriously, and a volume of my poetry was published in 2000 in England. I have also recently completed a metrical novel on the life of Shakespeare. I am delighted to be able to help students to produce a fluent and articulate thesis, and sometimes I am asked to improve on a student’s English style. Whole libraries have been written on the subject of style, but one of the most memorable definitions is still that of Jonathan Swift, who simply defined style as proper words in proper places.
I am a native New Zealander currently based in Amsterdam, and the exact and messy business of English language has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Since falling in love with the literature during my studies, I’ve spent many years teaching, editing, proofreading, translating and writing, all of which has forced me to look hard at what makes a sentence work (or not). I am a fixer. My number one tip is to spend time on the planning. It shows – and besides, there’s nothing worse than finding yourself way off track with a deadline looming.
A quick summary of me: I grew up in Atlanta and got a bachelor’s degree in violin at Emory University, then moved to Los Angeles to get a PhD in historical musicology at the University of Southern California. I am living in Paris now and writing my dissertation about celebrity musicians’ self-promotion in early-Romantic-period Paris. I still play my violin almost every day and continue to find it both cathartic and challenging.
I’ve been editing since 1999, when I and my fellow 12-year-old friends started a monthly subscription newsletter called Kids’ Connection; I’m proud to say that it ran for several years and was profitable. But my professional editing experience began in 2006 when an editorial firm hired me, and it continued through freelancing after I moved for graduate school in 2010. Editing is a fantastic job because I get paid to do two of my favorite things: to learn and to be picky. The latter skill does not carry over well into some other parts of life, please note!
One of these other parts is the part where I begin writing a new document. Though I enjoy editing, I find writing extremely difficult. It’s a bad case of writer’s block. Maybe you can relate. One thing has helped me, though, and it's dancing. I turn on some good music, usually without words, and sway and bob a little in my seat while typing away. Something about freeing the body seems also to free the mind and help me get my thoughts out. Try it. Even if it doesn’t help you get over your writer’s block, you’ll at least have more fun while you experience it!
I’m Megan, a self-proclaimed bibliophile, geek, and globetrotter. Originally from Pennsylvania, USA, I studied Philosophy and Community, Environment, and Development at The Pennsylvania State University; while there, I studied abroad in Perth, Australia and Dublin, Ireland. I also spent eight years learning French, which prompted me to leave Pennsylvania to teach English as a foreign language in Bordeaux, France. Currently, I'm a Master's student in International Development Studies in the Netherlands and am avidly learning Dutch.
Brevity is the key to writing well. Being as clear and concise as possible will help your readers understand your text better than long, complex sentences.
I live in Ontario Canada and work as a full-time freelance editor. I've always been drawn to reading and academia, and have developed an aptitude for language and formal tone. I have a BSc in nutraceutical science and an MSc in pharmaceutical science. I am therefore familiar with writing for an academic audience, including supervisors, committee members, and journal editors. I also have experience teaching university students; through this experience, I have learned to provide helpful feedback for writing assignments.
When I'm not reading or editing I enjoy participating in obscure sports, like slacklining and skydiving. I enjoy working for SCRiBBR because I am constantly learning new and interesting facts by editing different papers. The fact that I can travel and work at the same time is also a huge bonus.
A tip: When learning anything new, including a new language, be kind to yourself and don't give up. Be proud that you have the courage to try!
I come from Massachusetts and am currently living in New Orleans. I studied English at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
I love to read, write, travel and learn new languages. I am thankful for the opportunity to hone my editing skills with SCRiBBR, while reading interesting academic work.
Tip for writing in English: A lot of grammar and style rules in English are up for debate and not particularly strict. My number one tip for writers is to be consistent in your grammar and style choices throughout your writing project.
I live in South Africa and I specialise in editing academic papers for second-language English speakers. I am a published academic with a doctorate of philosophy in theology - so I have a keen sense of logical consistency and will point out any logical difficulties with your text. I also have more than 20 years experience in the newspaper industry, where I "subbed" and rewrote stories (mostly for second-language English writers), and also mentored reporters. The newspaper environment is a fantastic training ground for learning all the little tricks of the trade, such as common mistakes to look out for and little things you can do to improve the writing. You cannot imagine all the details involved in editing copy!
Tip for students: if English is not your first language and you are studying in English, read, read, read and read some more English books! I mean good, classic novels - not just articles on the internet, which are often full of mistakes. This will give you a good feel for the language. Begin by getting an English copy of a novel you have already read in Dutch. Then you will have a sense of the content. Read a chapter a night, taking special note of the use of prepositions. These are non-native speakers' greatest difficulty with English. Keep doing this until you are thinking in English.
I studied poetry and Latin at university. The two disciplines often overlapped, of course - in their own ways, each subject has taught me to be both playful and exact with language. Currently, I'm based out of Berlin, where I continue to write poems, articles, and interviews for various publications. I also work as a proofreader and editor for a magazine.
Working with text across so many different formats and styles only convinces me further that proofreading is like a collaboration. I love editing other people's writing because I learn something - not only about the subject of the thesis or article, but about how the writer's mind works. My goal is always to get a feel for the writer's intentions and strategies of structuring an argument or line of thought, and then do all that I can to help those intentions be realized in language!
I’ve been a voracious reader and a committed writer since the time I learned to string sentences together. I have two post-graduate degrees, one in Business Communication and one in Creative Brand Communication. I’ve worn the informal title of Pro Wordsmith, both professionally and as a favour to fellow writer friends and clients, throughout my very colourful career. I write opinion pieces for various reputable publications and online sites, including my own website. I’m a self-published author. And I’m going to keep writing – more books, more opinion pieces, more words of encouragement – because it makes me feel alive and expressed and of service.
All of this is to say that I have a deep and on-going love affair with language. I’m delighted that I get to continue the affair here at Scribbr, and I'm especially thankful that you're going to benefit from it.
Writing tip: Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep to your topic. All of this helps to make your academic writing elegant and easy to understand.
I'm an American-Chilean with studies in Veterinary Medicine and Commercial Engineering. I'm fully bilingual (Spanish and English) and, in addition to editing, I translate documents for the mining, legal and financial sectors.
Both editing and translating have taught me so much! I learn from every paper I work on, which keeps it always interesting, never dull.
Tip for writing: As with every other aspect of life, keeping it clean, smooth and uncluttered will result in elegance and style.
I grew up in Arizona and California and now live in North Carolina. I have a BA in linguistics (more on that later) and a PhD in developmental psychology. I am a research professional specializing in communications. For 10 years I worked at a small research and development company where I built and directed the editorial team. Before that, I was a book sales representative and actually got paid to travel around the Southwest visiting independent and university bookstores – pure heaven.
I was brought up in a family that loves playing with words, and as an undergraduate at UCLA, I discovered that majoring in linguistics would let me do just that. My favorite assignments were listening to unknown – usually tonal – languages and transcribing them phonetically, and reading sentences in unfamiliar – often Native American – languages and describing their syntactic structure. I also had the opportunity to take introductory courses in five languages, including Japanese and Hebrew.
Writing Tip: When writing the discussion section, don’t be afraid to show a little enthusiasm! Academic writing is, by definition, objective. However, if you are fascinated by your research topic, the discussion section is where you can, to some extent, let that fascination surface. Remember, you want to inspire your readers to continue this line of research.
I grew up in the United States and currently live in the American South with my husband and our two dogs. I have a PhD in history, and I specialize in U.S. environmental history and policy. (I also specialize in dog walking.) I have loved reading and writing since I was a young girl, and if I ever have free time, you can rest assured I am reading a book...or two! I have taught history in college for several years, and I am currently revising my dissertation into a manuscript suitable for publishing with an academic press.
Academic Writing Tip: Don't use 50 words when 20 will suffice! I frequently see students write long, complicated sentences that do little besides confuse their readers. A shorter sentence with a few interesting word choices will generally convey your point more clearly than a longer sentence with a bunch of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.
Not sure if your sentence is too long? Read it out loud! If you find yourself struggling to get to the end, chances are your readers will have trouble as well.
I was born and raised in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, and currently divide my time between Botswana and South Africa. I have been an avid reader from an early age, and in my twenties discovered that editing could be a way of making a living. I enjoy the challenge of assisting writers to formulate the best way to express their work.
In the 1990s, I studied literature at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, and more recently have been pursuing an MA in linguistics, combining corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to examine media representations of industrial strikes in South Africa.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a researcher at a literature museum and thereafter moved to commercial publishing as a managing editor for, consecutively, a number of media start-ups in Cape Town. More recently, I worked as an associate editor at the Dictionary Unit for South African English (DSAE). Since then leaving the DSAE, I have maintained an interest in English lexicography, especially that of the local variety of the language. In addition, over the years, I have been engaged as a freelance researcher, writer and editor for a variety of newspapers, magazines and publishing houses.
Writing tip: Keep it simple. Don’t get involved in constructing overly complex sentences that are difficult to decipher. Read the sentence aloud to yourself. If you struggle to get through it, your reader will too. Rather break one long sentence into two, or even three, simpler ones. Try to avoid jargon and ‘big words’ – these too will stand in the way of your reader understanding what you mean.
I'm a native English-speaking South African currently pursuing a Research Masters in Linguistics in the Netherlands. My educational background includes a Bachelor in Linguistics, English Literature and Philosophy; I also hold an Honours and a Masters degree in Linguistics from a South African university.
In the past I have tutored first-year university English, and I have extensive experience in editing academic texts and theses.
A tip for writing in English (or any language that is not your mother tongue): First and foremost, try to express yourself clearly. Using complex sentences or 'fancy-sounding' words that you've found in a thesaurus often makes your argument harder to follow.
Growing up in Australia taught me two things. One: sunburn hurts. Two: staying inside with a good book helps to avoid sunburn. I continued these sun-avoidance techniques for several years at university, which eventually resulted in a Bachelors degree in Medical Research and a PhD in Medicine. I’m currently studying to be a Medical Doctor in the Netherlands, where it’s possible to avoid the sun almost completely, without even trying.
Post my preparation and publication of piles of professional papers, I have a couple of tips for your academic writing. Clarity tops quantity every time. Learn the difference between passive and active sentences, and try to write mostly in the latter. And read lots of papers in your area of study, so that you can get a sense of the ‘academic voice.’
I know the pain of constantly editing and rewriting your own thesis – it can be like a searing sunburn. I can take some of that pain from you. Let’s turn that sunburn into the glow of success.
When I was growing up in Minnesota, my father (an English professor who also writes and edits) would pay me a nickel for every typo I could spot in manuscripts. In retrospect, this may have been my first internship! The experience certainly helped to instill in me a passion for working with the written word that has only intensified with age.
I have lived, studied, and worked in ten countries, both as an English teacher and as a staff member of international organizations. My academic background includes a Master of Arts in English (with an emphasis on Teaching English as a Second Language), a Master of International Affairs degree, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. I am passionate about working with people from other cultures and anything to do with language. Editing truly brings me great joy – I love the challenge of finding the perfect formulation or wording and derive much satisfaction from helping students take their academic writing up a notch.
My tip is not to be afraid of punctuation. Theses and dissertations generally contain information and ideas that are quite complex, and using tools such as commas, semi-colons, and parentheses can really help to keep things clear for your reader.
While I have always loved reading, it was my studies that moved me towards an appreciation of individual words—their form, their meaning, and their use.
I have an undergraduate degree in English and Classics, and it was here that I discovered my academic field: medieval literature. I was born in Belgium and grew up speaking English and Dutch. When we started studying Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in university, I was surprise by how much of the text I could understand. English belongs to the Germanic family of languages, which also includes German and Dutch, and Chaucer's fourteenth-century English retains more traces of this than Modern English does. Knowing Dutch helped me considerably when it came to reading the text. I also loved investigating how ancient Greek and Roman texts were transformed in medieval hands. Medieval literature contained the perfect blend of literatures and languages for me and I was (and am!) intrigued by the puzzles it presents. I continued on this path with a master's degree in medieval studies, and went on to do a Phd in the same field, picking up Latin along the way.
My academic work has always focused on a 'philological' approach, and what this essentially means is really striving to understand how each word has been used in a specific text. To accomplish this, you have to understand the language, but also why the author is writing and who the reader is going to be. All of this is essential to my editing work. Acknowledging the formal requirements of academic writing and appreciating the precise meanings of words and how they should be used are key to producing a high quality piece of writing.
I have been editing and proofreading academic writing for over four years now, and one of the best parts of the job is that I still learn something new every day.
My number one tip would be don't be afraid to use the dictionary. I use it all the time. I will look up familiar words to make sure they are just right for a particular sentence, and I will look up more obscure words to figure out what their precise meaning actually is. We use words loosely all the time, but for academic writing using the right word in the right place will make your writing clearer and more effective!
During my time at university and shortly after, I have tried to satiate my obsession with travel, which has given me the amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world and be a constant language-learner through my adventures. In the past five years, I have traveled to approximately 15 countries. When I wasn't traveling, I was writing papers, reading papers, writing for internships and jobs, and translating and editing texts. Most recently, I settled down in Cairo for a year after graduating with my B.A. in Cognitive Sciences and Policy Studies from Rice University. In Cairo, I tutored adults in English for placement exams and gained a more nuanced perspective of the English-learning process. As a student of foreign languages and linguistics, editing and revising papers with SCRiBBR is my way of paying it forward to all my gracious language partners throughout my travels.
My tip for academic writing is to have a strong idea for not only your paper, but also each paragraph. Then, execute your idea with clear and concise sentences whenever possible! As a visual person, I find it helps me to create a "map" or outline and draw out where I want my points to go and how they all connect in the end.
I grew up in rural Ontario and spent a few years after high school making music at cafés and bars, before leaving for my university education. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I completed a combined honours degree, first class, in Philosophy and English, returning the next year to complete an MA in English. My undergraduate work focused on philosophy of language and feminist philosophy, while my master’s thesis focused on ecology and contemporary Canadian poetry.
While at the school my writing interests were broadened well beyond the scope of my own disciplines. As I completed my undergrad, I spent five years as a university writing tutor, seeing students at all levels of education (from entrance level to PhD) and treating writing in most academic styles: scientific, creative, business, journalistic, argumentative, and so forth. About half of the students who came to the centre were accomplished writers in their native tongues. These students worked with our tutors to learn the nuances of English writing specifically, and they gave me plenty of practice working with writers who come to English from other languages. During these five years I also graded for the Engineering, Commerce, English, and Philosophy departments, and gained some teaching experience along the way. I work in writing because I find it gratifying to read interesting papers on subjects or arguments I’ve not been exposed to.
Tip for writing in English: English speakers find that writing tends to be clearest when the main verb in a sentence is close to the beginning of that sentence, whereas it is more common in other languages to push the main verb further into a sentence. Try to be attentive to the placement of that main verb, and try to place it early. This advice, of course, does not apply to all sentences, but works well as a general writing guideline.
Language has played an important role in my life since I was a child. Inspired by my Spanish-speaking neighbors and my German-speaking grandmother, I told my parents I would learn everything I could about languages. I was seven years old at the time, and it didn't take me long to start learning Spanish, French, Kaqchikel (a Mayan language), Portuguese, Korean, Mongolian, Chinese, Thai, and Laos.
I am happy to say that I still get to use most of my language skills on a regular basis with my students and with my friends (ok--I don't get to practice Mongolian anymore because I don't have any Mongolian friends near me!). Having studied at the master's level in France, I know how it feels to put together long presentations and papers in a second (or third!) language. I hope that comes through in the edits I do here at Scribbr.
My only writing tip would be to try your best to remember the advice you receive from editors, teachers, and other mentors. The fast pace of life can make it tempting to just correct a text, submit it, and forget it, but if you spend a little extra time internalizing some of the corrections made to your papers, you'll actually become a better writer in the end.
I have always had a love for languages. I studied English and Spanish and I have been working full time as a language practitioner since 2010. I do copy editing, proofreading and translation in three languages (English, Afrikaans and Spanish). Besides working on manuscripts for academic books and articles for academic journals, I am also involved in children’s books (fiction and non-fiction) and the development of school textbooks.
Many people underestimate the contribution that an excellent language practitioner can make to the success of a project. I enjoy finding the most appropriate solutions to problems, taking into account the complex interplay between content, style and tone, clarity of expression, and time and space limitations – always with the needs of the intended audience in mind. I feel a deep sense of responsibility and accountability for every text I work on.
Above all I love helping authors develop and improve their texts. Clarity of thought and clarity of expression are two necessary ingredients for a good text. I believe that it is essential for future academics to develop their writing skills, so that they are able to express their ideas in the clearest, most accessible way possible.
Writing tip: Many writers assume that long, complex sentences will make their writing come across as formal and academic. The trend in English in recent years is towards ‘plain English’. This means generally keeping your sentences short and simple. You can create the appropriate formal tone by your choice of vocabulary. Avoid unnecessarily long and convoluted sentences.
I am a Canadian expat living in the Netherlands. I have an MA in Media Studies with a specialization in Publishing Studies. Before becoming a freelance editor, I worked for a prominent research institute in the Netherlands; I am therefore very familiar with the conventions of academic writing.
Since then, I have gained a lot of experience editing texts for non-native English speakers and, as someone learning Dutch myself, I understand the difficulties that come with trying to express yourself in a foreign language. I love to help students improve not only the clarity of their present text, but also their writing skills for any future academic endeavours.
Born and raised in the Midwestern United States, I hold graduate degrees in law and public affairs from the University of Wisconsin. After graduate and law school, I worked as a law clerk for a justice on the South Dakota Supreme Court and as an environmental and energy attorney for an NGO. My husband and I relocated to the Netherlands in the summer of 2015 for his job.
I gained writing and editing experience during my graduate studies and as law clerk and practicing attorney, but have always loved writing and language. I’m a person who asked for a dictionary as six-year-old and Garner’s Modern American Usage for Christmas a few years ago. I really enjoy editing, working with others to improve their writing, and learning something new everyday.
I follow a few writing guidelines. Writing simply and clearly is always best. Don’t show off with vocabulary. Use topic sentences throughout your writing and reread your draft using those sentences to follow your argument. Getting through the first draft is difficult, but the best writing comes when you have time to make revisions.
I was born and raised in South Africa and I still live here. My father was a publisher of anti-apartheid books in the 1970s (Ravan Press), and both of my parents were teachers with a specialty in English. So I grew up with a love of words and academic ideas. I've self-published a couple of works of fiction, and some of my poetry has been included in anthologies.
My degrees are a BA (English), BA Hons (psychology), and MA (research psychology), all awarded cum laude. I've been an academic editor for more than 20 years and I enjoy working with students. I also assist some of my private clients with data analysis and interpretation.
I've often worked with second-language writers and I've been the managing editor and copy editor for two academic journals in South Africa. I'm happy to be a Scribbr editor so that I can help students learn to write well. I find many of the papers very interesting.
Tip for academic writers: Keep your sentences short and include only one main idea per sentence. A good sentence length is 20 to 25 words. The longest sentence I've seen in a thesis was a list of 105 words, without enough punctuation!
I was born in Dundee and raised in Vryheid, which are both in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. I'm a third-born of a family of nine, who now lives in Johannesburg with his twin daughters. Since primary school, I've been a good reader and writer. I am an MSc in Physical Sciences graduate of the University of the Western Cape. Most of the books I read are in business studies, philosophy and psychology, science and technology, and spirituality. Besides editing, I have worked as a research scientist for Eskom (South Africa's power-generating company).
I have been a language editor for more than a decade now. I started out editing for my fellow postgraduate students and colleagues. My clients range from master's students to book authors to university professors. I don't limit myself in terms of the areas of study I edit because enjoy variety and learning new things every day.
Tips for academic writing: Clarity and simplicity in writing help us relay a clear message to the reader. Avoid using mainly jargon: Remember, your writing is not only for people in your field of study. Always try to have sentences that are not more than three lines long.
I am originally from Wales but now live in the south of France with my wife and dog. After studying Theology (including a year in Israel) at university I headed off to teach English as a foreign language in South Korea. It was there that I met my wife. I returned to Britain and to university in Cardiff where I completed both a masters and PhD. in archaeology, graduating with the latter in 2010. Another couple of years in South Korea followed before we moved to France in 2012.
I adore reading, am an avid football (soccer) fan, and I am also trying to write a novel.
Writing Tip: Keep it simple! When writing an essay, dissertation, or thesis it is important to use formal, academic language, but this does not mean you should try too hard to impress with unnecessarily long or difficult words. The subject being written about is often specialized and complex enough, do not make it more so. Using simple, straightforward language to explain your ideas and opinions will make it much easier for the reader to understand.
I come from Ohio in the United States, and I currently live in Amsterdam. My educational backgrounds are in politics, literature, creative writing, cultural studies, and the history of science. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 2015, where I also now teach in rhetoric, literature, literary theory, and cultural analysis. My own academic research and writing investigates the ways neuroscience weaves its way into popular and literary fiction. I am continuously struck curious by the ability for a sequence of words, commas, and metaphors to make characters fleshy, neurological, and humorously neurotic.
One moment that unites us all as writers—through sheer terror—is opening up a fresh Word document and encountering that icy, white blankness. Even if you’re the most well-funded chemist, cloistered in your laboratory for twelve hours a day, at some point you’re going to need to articulate your brilliant research to others. Ditto for students who shooed their final essays away for weeks until the night before. My advice? Free-write. If you’re under a deadline and your head feels like it’s in a pressure cooker, this is actually the optimal time to close your computer, shut down your mobile phone, grab a sheet of paper, and just write. Let it out: random phrases, thoughts, fragments of lyrics, etc. Don’t edit, don’t stop, don’t look back. Just keep that pen touching the paper. Do this non-stop for fifteen minutes. This is an exercise I’ve done in the mornings for years now, and it’s also a workout my students perennially find valuable. It’s like flushing the gunk out of your mind. Ahh, that’s better. Now, go forth and fill that Word document with what you really wanted to express!
I am a native English speaker and an experienced editor and writer. I was a UK academic for many years working with undergraduate, MA and PhD students on their essays and theses. I have a BA and MPhil from Oxford University in English Language and Literature. I have an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Contemporary Curating and Critical Writing. I enjoy working with language and texts, just as a sculptor enjoys working with stone or a painter with oils and watercolours. I write fiction and non-fiction. My books – early medieval novels, future fiction, art history – are published by Impress Books, Phaidon, Routledge, Palgrave and others. My novels have won and been short-listed for a number of prizes including Impress Prize, Rome Film Festival Book Initiative, Santander Research Award, Literature Wales Writers Bursary and Authors Foundation Award. I also write book reviews for Times Higher Education and Historical Novels Review and a regular column about writers living abroad for The Displaced Nation. Currently I am teaching art history to American Study Abroad students in France and running creative writing workshops. I was formerly senior lecturer in art history and theory at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts and guest professor at Bauhaus University, Weimar and Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. I divide my time between the UK and France. When I’m not working I’m playing with my grandson, reading books, chatting and walking with family and friends. I am an avid swimmer and own a waterproof Kindle.
Tips for writing: Notice what your bad habits and repeat errors are in writing and make sure you read through your text to edit them out. For example, I use “that” too often. We all have little tics that are a kind of throat-clearing in writing. Keep an eye on incorrect apostrophes especially in its/it’s. If you are struggling with your sentences or the flow or coherence of your writing, read it aloud to yourself. Think about who your readers are, what they know and don’t know, to help you decide what you need to tell them, how to keep their interest. The best way to learn how to write is to read constantly. Read anything that interests you: English newspapers, magazines, blogs, novels and textbooks.