300 Days of Better Writing

August 28, 2014

Use concluding words to state your main point.


When you are writing a document to persuade your reader about an idea, you present your supporting ideas or evidence leading up to the main point. If you do this well, your reader will come to the same conclusion that you are trying to make.
To show that you have finished making your argument (i.e., completed writing about the reasons for your idea) and are about to state the main idea, you use a concluding word. A concluding word tells the reader, “Based on this information, I conclude that . . . .” Sample concluding words and phrases are thus, therefore, in conclusion, and as a consequence.
These concluding words provide a signpost for the reader. They say, “I’m done giving the evidence, and now I’m going to tell you the idea that I want you to believe.”
You may be able to make your main point without them. However, they are very effective for helping the reader identify what it is you want them to understand.

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July 21, 2014

Subjects and verbs must agree in person.


Few writers would write “Bob love tuna sandwiches.” They would write “loves.”

In the present tense, if the subject of a verb can be replaced by he, she, or it, the verb probably needs that final “s.” Because the name “Bob” can be replaced by he, the verb needs that “s.”

When you write in the present tense, find your verbs. Then find the subject of those verbs. If you can replace them with one of these three pronouns, the verb probably needs that “s.”


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Top writing strategies and expert instruction from
each of Precise Edit’s writing guides

  • 1 critical article from
    Precise Edit Training Manual
  • 8 days of instruction from
    300 Days of Better Writing
  • 5 top strategies from
    Bang! Writing with Impact
  • 2 essential word choices from Which Word Do I Use?
  • 1 major comma use from Zen Comma
  • 1 section on main verbs from Concise Guide to Technical and Academic Writing
  • Essential Writing Skills series features two short guides:
    “Perfect Paragraphs and Super Sentences” and “Strategies for Concise Writing.”

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July 1, 2014

Provide credible references for new or controversial information.


Unless you are a recognized expert about a topic, your reader will have no reason to believe what you write. For example, I could tell you, “You shouldn’t eat eggplant. It’s bad for you.” You will ask, rightly, “What makes you an expert on eggplant?”

Unless the reader has a reason to believe that you are an expert on the topic, you need to provide a reference. A reference gives credibility to the information. A reference provides the source of the information you are communicating. This is especially important if your information is controversial, new, or contradictory to what the reader believes.

Name the source of the information, if known. If you have specific names, use them. This sentence contains a credible reference: “Louise Wilson, a researcher at the University of Nebraska, claims that people should not eat eggplant.”

You can also be more general, if needed, by using titles and descriptors, such as researchers, industry experts, or government officials. For example, you can write, “Nutritionists claim that people should not eat eggplant.”


Free E-book to Improve Your Writing Skills

Top writing strategies and expert instruction from
each of Precise Edit’s writing guides

  • 1 critical article from
    Precise Edit Training Manual
  • 8 days of instruction from
    300 Days of Better Writing
  • 5 top strategies from
    Bang! Writing with Impact
  • 2 essential word choices from Which Word Do I Use?
  • 1 major comma use from Zen Comma
  • 1 section on main verbs from Concise Guide to Technical and Academic Writing

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Purchase the Kindle version ($0.99).

June 20, 2014

Use subject pronouns in comparisons with implied verbs.


This is easier to demonstrate than explain in technical terms. Consider this sentence:

“I am taller than she/her.”

Which pronoun do you use, “she” or “her”? I often hear people use “her” in cases like this, but this is incorrect. This sentence implies the final verb is, as in “I am taller than she is.” Since the pronoun in question is serving as the subject to the implied verb is, you need a subject pronoun: “she.”

Here are two more examples.

“That man is smarter than I.” [“That man is smarter than I am.”]

“Who knows better than he?” [“Who knows better than he knows?”]


This is the strategy for day 177 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

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