On Failing to Omit Needless Words
All else equal, shorter law review articles are better than longer ones. But bloat’s allies are legion: editors; footnote-related positional competition; bad publisher incentives, etc. For fun, I decided to test a few of Strunk & White’s dreaded common needless phrases to see which appears most often in law review articles. Here are the candidates: the winners follow after the jump.
“the question as to whether”
“there is no doubt but that”
“this is a subject which”
“the fact that”
“Question” and “fact” both hit the ceiling: 10,000 hits in JLR. “Doubt” marks 647 papers, while “subject” is rare, with only 28 entries. Editors, consider this: removing “the fact that” from each sentence in which it appears can usually kill at least four words. Four words an article, times at least 10,000 articles. With no loss of meaning, you could have made room for two more published articles in the universe!