Humorous reminders of common mistakes in formal writing

A selection of advice from generations of Teaching Fellows at Harvard University, edited by Gordon Silverstein

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing formal academic English:

  1. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
  2. Never use no double negatives.
  3. Use the semicolon properly, always where it is appropriate; and never where it is not.
  4. Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it where it is not needed.
  5. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  6. No sentence fragments.
  7. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  8. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
  9. When you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  10. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  11. Do not overuse exclamation marks!!! (In fact, avoid them whenever possible!!!)
  12. Place pronouns as closely as possible, especially in long sentences (as of ten or more words) to their antecedents.
  13. Hyphenate only between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
  14. Write all adverbial forms correct.
  15. Don’t use contractions in very formal situations.
  16. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  17. It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
  18. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
  19. Avoid modernisms that sound flaky.
  20. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  21. If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a thousand times: avoid hyperbole.
  22. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
  23. Do not string a large number of prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
  24. Always pick on the the correct idiom.
  25. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation’ ‘marks.'”
  26. Never use more words than are necessary to get your point across: be as concise as possible.
  27. Awayz check you’re spelling. (Some spellcheckers would only cathc one of the two errors here.)
  28. Every sentence a verb.
  29. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague: seek viable alternatives.

Source: University of Minnesota