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It is . . . that; or, How Not to Edit Jane Austen

The formula it is . . . that is one of the most common rhetorical tics in academic writing. This formula also provides a great opportunity to edit for concision, since it can usually be removed easily from a sentence without changing the meaning . . .

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MLK Day the MLA Way

Martin Luther King Day? Martin Luther King, Jr., Day? MLK Day? There seems to be no consensus on how to style the name of this federal holiday. . . .

Celebrate the New Year in (MLA) Style

Should you write, “Happy New Year,” “Happy new year,” or “Happy New Year’s”? It depends on how much happiness you want to impart. . . .

When Not to Include

Many of the MLA’s authorities on English usage frown on the use of include to mean are. . . .

Overhedging

Keep an eye out for overhedging. Some writers are timid—or pretend to be—about making a statement, so they hedge: “I believe,” “it seems to me,” “may be,” “suggests that,” et cetera. The problem is that, having hedged, they often worry that they still have been too positive, so they hedge again, often in the same . . . . . .

Former and Latter

There are many stylistic sins worse than using former and latter. But if you’ve ever had to stop and reread a sentence or passage to figure out what former and latter point back to, you know why it’s best to avoid them . . .

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