RE: Overuse of "It"

Subject: RE: Overuse of "It"
From: <laura_johnson -at- agilent -dot- com>
To: <ekarenski-techwrl -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 16:58:31 -0600

You've gotten lots of good suggestions. I agree that (unfortunately) you don't have one systematic problem, but several problems leading to lots and lots of "it"s.

One systematic thing you can do, and may be able to teach your colleagues to do, is to eradicate the passive voice. (Some of the engineers I work with were taught to use an academic tone and passive voice, or at least to avoid the second person in formal documents. They don't mind changing to something more straightforward once I ask them to do so.) Minimizing the passive will eliminate many its.
Then you have to recast the remaining and excessive its. Let's give it a try [of course, without complete sentences I've got to guess at the intent]:

It appears that....
You can probably drop the phrase entirely.
It is encountered at...
You will encounter this at ....
It may be slightly older...
[If the antecedent is clear, I'd leave this one alone.]
It is important to note that...
NOTE: [Or recast the whole thing. Is it really important to note something, or is it essentially important to DO something? To whom is it important?]
It is much thinner than...
[If the antecedent is clear, I'd leave this one alone.]
It appears that there are...
There appear to be .... [or There are... depending on your intent]
It is postulated that....
Many people have postulated that... or Fred has postulated that... or I believe that...
It is clear in the comparison of....
[I'd need the whole sentence here, but I bet you can make it shorter and clearer.]
It is also of interest to note...
Note that ....

Laura Johnson
Learning Products Engineer
Agilent Technologies
Loveland, Colorado


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Overuse of "It": From: Karen

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