The majority of writers now use computers (as word-processors) for their writing. The use of computers does not change the principles of good writing, but it does make achieving them easier in many ways. It also calls for extra care over the writing process. We are sometimes told that the so-called 'electronic office' will make our advice on writing unnecessary. We doubt that. Indeed, we think more, not less, training of 'authors' will be required as new technology makes it easier to prepare and duplicate 'texts'.
Word-processing changes the way text is created and extended, and the ways in which writers think and work. At the simplest level, a word-processor is little more than a clever typewriter, with electronic correcting fluid. The main advantage of the word-processor is the ease with which mistakes can be corrected. Clean copies can be produced without the need to re-type the whole document. The labour of typing several drafts is eliminated, and the temptation to let a draft through with small mistakes disappears. Final copies are cleaner, neater, and should be error-free. Revision, that corner-stone of good writing, becomes a regular practice rather than a distant ideal.
With a manual typewriter, revisions are possible; but to see their effect properly requires complete retyping. The word-processor makes it possible to revise documents bit by bit, and to see the effect of each batch of alterations without having to go through the labour of re-typing the whole text.
We recommend that you use the same technique of rapid writing when you revise, as when you write the first draft: read rapidly, and mark passages, words, and sentences that need looking at carefully. If you stop for too long to wrestle with a hydra of a sentence, you will distort your memory of the overall