8. Common editing issues

Here is a list of the common errors that A&A language editors tend to see in papers.

8.1 Nouns

Data uses the plural form of the verb, however data set and data point take the singular


  • We extrapolated the data and found that they were incorrect.
  • We reported that our data set was insufficient and we needed to obtain further data points.

While statistics is plural in form, the verb form can be either plural, when referring to a collection of data, or singular, when referring to the discipline. However, a set of statistics always uses the singular form of the verb.


  • The statistics show that many of the observations were impacted by noise.
  • This set of statistics was undermined by the results of the latest study.
  • is concerned with compiling, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data.

Dynamics uses the singular form of the verb.

Example: The dynamics of the system was described by a quantum master equation.

Galaxy cluster refers to a cluster of galaxies (the “ies” from “galaxies” is dropped in this case).

Example: This galaxy cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars.

8.2 Verbs

Usage: to account for; to take into account
Examples: We account for this discrepancy in our calculations.
We take this discrepancy into account when checking our results.

Usage: to agree with; to be in agreement with
Examples: Our results agree with the findings published in the literature.
Our data are in agreement with the findings of a previous study.

Usage: to aim to; to be aimed at
Examples: In this study, we aim to show the consistency and stability of the Nuker models.
This study is aimed at demonstrating the significance of the inner density slope within the model.

Usage: to allow for; to allow something/someone to do something
Examples: This assumption allows for a precise calculation.
These innovative telescopes allow us to make more precise observations.

Usage: to correct for
Example: We used this method to correct for the skewed measurement in our calculations.

Distinguish; differentiate
Usage: to distinguish from; differentiate from
Example: We used the color red to distinguish our results from those of the previous study.

8.3 Pronouns and relative pronouns

et al.
This expression refers to a team with more than one author and uses the plural form of the verb. When making reference to authors, referees, or other individuals, confusion about pronouns can be avoided by using the neutral they form in references and acknowledgements.


  • El Mellah et al. (2019b) suggest that this mechanism is chiefly responsible for the formation of ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs). We thank the referee for their comments.

That; which
These are relative pronouns that have a similar meaning but which are used differently in a sentence. A&A style leans towards the use of that when providing essential and defining information about a subject because it is a more direct expression of the relationship between the subject and the description.


  • An effective gating mechanism that hampers the accretion of the transferred material seems to be at work in these systems, which has a negative impact on X-ray luminosity.
  • The galaxy that contains approximately one trillion stars also has satellite galaxies. (i.e., there is more than one galaxy and the fact it has one trillion stars is the defining element.)
  • The galaxy, which contains approximately one trillion stars, also has satellite galaxies. (i.e., there is at least one galaxy and the additional information about the one trillion stars is nonessential.)

Note: There should not be a comma before that (unless it is preceded by another, separate clause in a complex sentence) but which can be used with or without a comma, depending on the structure and complexity of a sentence.

8.4 Expressions of size, number, and scope

Example: None of the parameters were met.

One of
Example: She is one of the best astronomers in the world.

Many; a number of
Examples: There have been many papers written on the subject. A number of researchers have studied this topic. There were a number of researchers taking part in the study.

Majority; minority (implies more or less than 50% of something)
The majority of researchers rely on this funding to carry out their work.

Fraction (implies a small portion)
Only a fraction of our results were in agreement with the hypothesis.