Writing Workshops

Click to go to Writing Lesson 1
Click to go to Writing Lesson 1

Welcome to Serious Scholar!

This web site contains a series of writing workshops specifically geared towards professors and students who are looking to advance their writing to another level. Whether you are a seasoned professor who strives for perfection, a nonnative professor or student looking to sharpen up your manuscripts, or a student on the road to your profession, you will find a mountain of treasure in this web site.

Throughout 7 years of editing for professors, postdoc fellows, and graduate students at the best universities in the country, I have continually found ways to strengthen my writing. Perhaps Hemingway was right when he said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

It is a pleasure for me to share my knowledge with you as you strive to publish more research, strengthen the quality of your articles and books, sharpen your professional correspondence letters and e-mails, complete your thesis or dissertation, or excel in your course essays.

Please join me in the free lessons to get started. Best wishes and see you on the other side!

Is Kindergarten Capitalized?

Is Kindergarten Capitalized?
Do you capitalize kindergarten?

A common question is whether the word kindergarten is capitalized. Well, I’ve already given away the answer–no, kindergarten is not capitalized. But if you came to this post, you should read below so that you know how to deal with capitalization issues for other terms in the future.

Whenever you have a question about the capitalization of a word, you have to Continue reading Is Kindergarten Capitalized?

How to Change the Color of Tracking in Tracked Changes in Microsoft Word

You might have noticed that, when you are working with tracked changes in Word, when you close and reopen your document, the color of your tracked changes sometimes changes (e.g., maybe your revisions were in blue, and now all of a sudden, they are in red!).

If you would like the color to stay consistent, follow Continue reading How to Change the Color of Tracking in Tracked Changes in Microsoft Word

No More “Those”

Conciseness SicknessSome time long ago, a disease called wordiness began to spread among writers. In informal speech and writing, we use filler words, overly complex verbs, redundant word pairs, long or cumbersome phrases, clichés, and other devices that unnecessarily bloat our sentences.

In academic and other formal writing, one challenge is to reduce this wordiness whenever possible. The benefits of doing so are improved readability and often specificity and clarity.

Because conciseness is such an important theme in academic writing, I am developing some video lessons on them. Occasionally, however, I will post brief examples so that you can begin to look for ways to reduce wordiness in your own writing.

Today’s example is the word those. In some cases, the word is helpful and even necessary. But any time that you use the word, double check to see Continue reading No More “Those”

Do I Use Double Quotes or Single Quotes?

StumpedAuthors often mention to me that they are confused about whether to use double or single quotation marks in their quoted material. The answer depends on whether you are writing in Continue reading Do I Use Double Quotes or Single Quotes?

How to Change the Language Region to US English on OxfordDictionaries.com

Just a quick post today with a little tip. I usually use Merriam-Webster dictionary because it is the preferred source of spelling for most major US editorial styles. However, I have noticed that Oxford’s online dictionary has some nice explanations of tricky situations.

Today I was double checking the lie vs. lay rules, and I liked Oxford’s straightforward approach to explaining it. If you are using US English for your document, you’ll want to quickly change the language preference before you begin using the dictionary. To do this  Continue reading How to Change the Language Region to US English on OxfordDictionaries.com

The Fastest, Most Accurate Way to Find & Format Block Quotes in APA, Chicago, MLA and Other Styles

If you are creating a document that has a lot of quotes–maybe a qualitative study–you will have to format some of your quotes as block quotes. Block quotes are quotes that are indented to the left (in academic manuscripts, they are not usually indented to the right too, just the left). In APA style, we set quotes in block style if they are 40 words or more, and in Chicago style the threshold is 100 words.

But what happens if you have a long document, perhaps a dissertation, and you want to format all of your long quotes quickly? You can Continue reading The Fastest, Most Accurate Way to Find & Format Block Quotes in APA, Chicago, MLA and Other Styles

Avoid Unnecessary Prepositions with Some Verbs

Picture of Scissors to Represent Conciseness

Last week I talked about avoiding redundant verbs. In this post, I’ll discuss another conciseness issue that authors often run into with verbs: adding an unnecessary Continue reading Avoid Unnecessary Prepositions with Some Verbs