User:Tony1/Advanced editing exercises

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Man writing a letter (1662–65), oil on canvas, by Dutch painter Gabriel Metsu; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Self-help writing tutorials:


Please note: the exercises are intended to be done in your mind; saving edits means the page has to be reverted.

Skilled editing is central to achieving high-quality Wikipedia articles. Each exercise below will present you with a portion of faulty text. It may contain problems of grammar, logic, cohesion, tone, lexical choice, punctuation or redundant wording. In some cases, there are breaches of Wikipedia's Manual of style.

Unlike our exercises in eliminating redundant wording, most of the exercises don't concentrate on a specific aspect of writing or editing; here, you need to be aware of all the things that can go wrong in constructing text. The challenge is not knowing in advance what has gone wrong. This is more like the real-life situation you face as an editor of Wikipedia articles.

"Unfolding" design. The exercises are designed to be done in your head, without writing. On purpose, each unfolds in stages: first, the problem text, then one or two hints, then a solution, and an explanation. You'll get the most out of the exercises by thinking carefully about each stage before clicking on the next one. Expect to stop when you've had enough, and plan to return to take up where you left off. We suggest you work through the exercises in a "distributed" (spaced out) way, not "massed" (all at once). Try clumps of five or six at time, then a good break. This is likely to have a more powerful effect on your learning (see Scientific American, March 2012, p. 12).

Variety of English. The page uses UK/Australian/Irish/New Zealand/South African spelling. Shouldn't be a problem. American readers just need to "translate" -ise → -ize, -our → -or, -lling → -ling, and the few other differences. Canadians, well, you're somewhere in the middle.

Feedback. We like to know how the exercises can be improved. Please leave feedback on the talk page.

Instructions. Click on [Show] to the right of each stage. Good luck!

Group 1[edit]

Teen pop idol[edit]

He was a teen pop idol from 1964–1979, and since then he has forged a career as an adult contemporary singer.

Canadian politics[edit]

The Liberal Party had governed the nation since 1935, and had won five consecutive elections.

Welfare state[edit]

The Liberals were generally successful, with the nation prosperous and an increasing welfare state.

[In the article, this comes straight after the previous statement in Exercise 2.]

Committee grows tired of chairman[edit]

His father was a lawyer, a judge and, for 31 years, a Congressman who chaired the House Naval Affairs Committee during the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

South Korean army[edit]

The smaller South Korean army suffered from widespread lack of organisation and equipment, and it was unprepared for war.

[This could be improved in two ways.]

David Bellamy[edit]

A protest group was formed to resist the proposed construction, which attracted support from the botanist and environmental campaigner David Bellamy.

That's enough thinking for now. Go have a rest, and come back tomorrow and do the next set.

Group 2[edit]

Market town[edit]

Navenby, which has Bronze Age, Roman and Medieval heritage, was made a market-town with charters from Edward the Confessor, William Rufus, and Richard II. However, the market fell into disuse in the early 19th century.

[There's one issue.]

FA Cup final[edit]

Montgomery's feat is often described as the most famous save, in an FA Cup final, of all time.


Sunderland required only a draw in their final game against rivals Chelsea, who had another game left to play after this match, to secure promotion.

[It has a clunky feel to it; why?]

Shots at the goal[edit]

Sunderland, a Second Division club at the time, won the game, mostly due to the efforts of their goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery; he saved in quick succession two of Peter Lorimer's shots at the goal.

32 million albums[edit]

The Association ranks her as the eighth-best-selling female artist in American music history, having sold 32 million albums in the US.

[Ambiguity is the issue.]

HMS Agincourt (1913)[edit]

As Brazil's relations with Argentina were warming and the country's economic boom was losing steam, the government negotiated with Armstrong to remove the third dreadnought from the contract.

Group 3[edit]

Ms Ima Hogg[edit]

Ima worked closely with architect John Staub to design the house so that it would show off the art the family had already purchased.

[Yes, parents can be cruel. Remove four words and change a fifth, to produce neater wording.]

Spouting water[edit]

Concern over the spouting water potentially knocking people down made the design both a legal and a physical challenge.

[There are at least three issues! Stare at it before you access the hints below.]

Artificial turf did the trick[edit]

Artificial turf was installed because it was easier to maintain than natural grass. The potential damage to a natural grass field caused by Seattle's frequent rain also made the surface an appropriate option.

Company threatens downloaders[edit]

Odex sent letters of demand to people associated with IP addresses after sufficient downloading activity had been recorded.

[Just one issue. Can you see it before you click again?]

Totalitarian alarm[edit]

The Soviets were as alarmed by the problem as their East German protégés.

[Just one issue. And in the context they're talking about the regimes of both countries.]


DPIs have many advantages over liquid nebulisers: the drug is more stable, dosing is rapid, the devices are less expensive, and can be manufactured in a disposable form.

Jaws, the film[edit]

Chrissie Watkins, a 23-year-old woman, leaves an evening beach party to go skinny-dipping in the Atlantic Ocean, only to be dragged back and forth violently and then under the water.

[This is in the present tense because it's recounting the storyline.]

Group 4[edit]


The main attraction will be a new 301-foot (92 m)-tall swing ride known as WindSeeker.

Stone curtain wall[edit]

The castle is oval, with an 11-metre (35 ft) wide stone curtain wall.


The castle has been the subject of antiquarian studies since the 18th century, and it was originally thought to have been the location of an Iron Age hill fort.

William de Neville[edit]

Buckton Castle was probably built by William de Neville, Lord of Longdendale, in the late 12th century; which would make it contemporary with other castles in Greater Manchester, such as Dunham and Stockport.

Cope versus Darwin[edit]

Due to his background in taxonomy and paleontology, Cope focused on evolution in changing structural terms, rather than Darwin's emphasis on geography and variation within populations.

Record number of goals[edit]

In 2009, he set a new OHL record for career goals as he finished the season with 215, two more than former record holder Peter Lee.

Three-blade turbines[edit]

Three-blade turbines are the most common design for modern windmills, as the design minimises forces related to material fatigue.

[This is the caption to a picture of a three-blade wind turbine.]

Group 5: longer examples[edit]

St-Calais the rebel[edit]

St-Calais continued to hold out in Durham, claiming he had never rebelled. When the king approached with an army, St-Calais agreed to come out, but only after receiving a safe conduct that would allow him to attend a trial while his men continued to hold the castle. From his actions, it appears likely that St-Calais did rebel, whatever his statements to the contrary, although northern chronicles maintained his innocence.

[There's just one issue; can you pinpoint it?]


[This example comes from a lead, which provides a sequence of summary statements about the subsequent text in the article.]

Agriculture continues to be a major part of the economy of Somerset. Apple orchards were once plentiful, and to this day the county is linked to the production of strong cider. The unemployment rate in the county is lower than the surrounding counties. The largest employment sectors are retail, manufacturing, leisure/tourism and health/social care.

[There are four issues.]

Jane Zhang[edit]

Jane Zhang (born 11 October 1984) also known as Zhang Liangying is a Chinese pop singer who came to prominence when she placed third in the 2005 season of the Super Girl contest a national all female singing competition held in the People's Republic of China. Throughout the competition, she sang in English, Spanish and Cantonese in addition to Mandarin Chinese.

[There are seven issues.]

Steam locomotive technology[edit]

Incorporating a number of new developments in steam locomotive technology, the Packets were amongst the first designs to utilise welding in the construction process, which meant that components could be more easily constructed during the wartime austerity and post war economy.

[There are six issues.]

Chain-driven valve gear[edit]

The locomotives also featured Bulleid's innovative, though controversial chain-driven valve gear and the inclusion of thermic syphons. The class members were named after the Merchant Navy shipping lines involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, and latterly those which used Southampton Docks, an astute publicity masterstroke by the Southern Railway, who operated Southampton Docks during the period.

[There are five issues.]