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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Call for Pet Peeves on Wordiness Suggestions

I put out a call for editing ideas in my newsletter because I have a new book coming out. The proof is on its way to me. It's really a booklet because I think people do better when they get things like Trip-You-Up words in small doses. As I was writing it, I realized I need suggestions for the next in the series. Wordiness has been a popular subject on this blog.

I already have a few from subscribers Nadine Laman, Liz Babcock and June Casagrande who have sumitted ideas. But I need more! The new one would make three lists in all. (There is a list in your copy of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, too. Find it at I'm also planning a booklet on ugly jargon words or phrases we'd best avoid. So won't you help? Send your ideas to me at

And, in the meantime, here's a suggestion I published in my Sharing with Writers newsletter:

Hi, Carolyn;

You asked for ideas on ugly words and jargon to avoid. My current un-pet phrase is "a number of," which I think users believe sounds better than "several." The reason why I hate the term is that it's so unhelpful for the reader. That number could be anything from three to millions — who knows? I think the user of this term often is thinking of a number that's more than two but an unimpressive number more than two (like maybe three). Whenever I run across the term in my editing, I substitute "several," which at least gives the reader the idea that the number being spoken of is relatively small.

That was fun to rant! I'll keep you in mind as I run across more such

Liz Babcock, editor of Longridge division of the California Writer’s Club’s newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe, please send a request to Liz at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.
And please tweet to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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