This is my incomplete but sometimes useful list for when I am down in the weeds of editing. I’m sure you will have your own lists but these are the words, phrases and elements of punctuation that regularly get the secateurs treatment.
- appeared to
- by (unwanted passive writing alert)
- in fact
- less (vs fewer)
- seemed to
- with (see ‘by’)
- any adverb
- American spelling or not (depending on where you’re standing)
- too many commas (or too few) – I, over-comma
- hyphens – I over–hyphen
- semi-colons – I love semi-colons; too much;
- double full stop at the end of a sentence or paragraph..
- double space following a full stop
- missing full stop at the end of a paragraph
- “” vs ‘
Feel free to add your own items in the comments box below.