Here is a list of tips I check whenever I write anything:

  1. check for any misspelled words using spellcheck
  2. replace contractions with complete words (eg, don’t –> do not)
  3. replace abbreviations with complete words (eg, “e.g.” –> for example)
  4. replace colloquialisms with more formal words (eg, nowadays –> recently)
  5. when referring to figures, be consistent, probably “Figure X” everywhere, although “Fig.~X” is also permissable, “figure x” is not really.
  6. punctuate every equation (e.g., it gets a comma or a period after)
  7. In latex, replace all double quotes with `` and ‘’.

For the following list of words, literally do a search of every instance of each of the below words, and modify the text as described below.

  1. i, we, our, us, you, your –> rewrite sentence (almost always)
  2. in order to/for –> to/for
  3. clearly, obviously –> remove, might not be so clear/obvious to everyone
  4. this, they, it –> be specific, which noun this/they/it is referring to is often vague
  5. very –> use a stronger adjective/adverb
  6. data is –> data are
  7. novel –> remove, novelty should be implied by context. If it is not clear by context, update context
  8. most/least/best/worst/better/worse/optimal/*est: requires a citation as it is an empirical claim, or evidence, and a dimension along which the comparison is made
  9. usually/typically –> same deal, either provide a citation/evidence, or don’t say it, replace with “frequently”
  10. no reason / essential/necessary / necessitate / no way / impossible –> remove, these are all too strong, just because you haven’t thought of a reason, or a counter example, or another way, does not mean that nobody else has/can.
  11. done –> completed.
  12. utilized –> used
  13. firstly –> first, and similarly for second, third, etc.
  14. & –> and
  15. arguably –> possibly, likely, perhaps (why argue with your reader?)
  16. as such –> ok sparsely, but often overused, check and revise sentences.
  17. numbers have space before unit, eg 1GB –> 1 GB.
  18. first –> somebody reading this will think they did it first, and they are at least partially correct. first-ness should be implied by context.
  19. in this manuscript –> nothing, it is implied.
  20. a priori –> should be italics
  21. is used –> rewrite sentence, avoid passive tense whenever possible
  22. can be seen / it has been shown –> typically just remove, sometimes replace with “shows”, or reword sentences
  23. we want to –> we (though should be reworded to avoid “we” entirely)
  24. Fig, Fig., fig –> Figure (or at least be consistent)
  25. we chose appropriate –> we chose (let them decide whether it was appropriate)
  26. “note that” or “we note that” or “we highlight” or “we highlight that” –> simply remove.
  27. can be / we think / could be / might be / etc. –> these are always true, and therefore the clause that follows could be anything, and is too weak. be stronger, but only quantitatively if there is evidence, and cite it.
  28. should –> who is the arbiter of what should and shouldn’t be, and how do you have privileged access to that information? (hint: you don’t) (ps - i realize i used should in this document)
  29. methodology –> method
  30. it appears –> usually just remove this and its better