I am revising the following sentence in an academic paper:

The de facto XXX seems to go too far and notably undermine the readability.

where XXX is a named of a new technique.

I feel like "go too far" is a bit verbal. So my question is whether this is suitable for academic writing, and if not, what is the proper way of emending this?

  • 1
    Personally, I find the 'go too far' idom acceptable. You could also use exaggerate but without knowing further context, it seems to me you would need an object 'exaggerates the...'
    – S Conroy
    May 12, 2019 at 17:28
  • no "the" for readability. go too far is fine. [amend?]
    – Lambie
    May 12, 2019 at 20:39

3 Answers 3


"overcompensates" could be a good non-idiomatic substitute. Depending on the wider context (the stated goal of XXX, it's particular mechanisms of action) it may even be more or less accurate than another word choice.

So I just found this word, monosemous, which appears to be the direct opposite of ambiguous. Therefore, monosemous may just be the most monosemous way to express the idea you appear to be aiming for.


I have no issue with "go too far". Academic writing is about clarity more than formality. Some idioms should be avoided because they are difficult for non-fluent speakers to understand. Never underestimate your audience's intelligence but never overestimate their fluency in English or the size of their English vocabulary.

A great paper that demonstrates an informal writing style is "Unbiased look at dataset bias". Its paywalled but you might be able to find a free copy as it’s relatively old now. It’s great content in a style that is quick and easy to read.


I would revise the sentence, too. to undermine implies to go to far, so it could be struck. But given the early answer in favor of the construction, my answer likely comes to late. Indeed, it is commendable to spend time on results instead of the writing. It's rather a matter of style, over all, than word choice.

As for word choice, consider that to go requires an object, and too far is not one, but readability seems to be the implied object. We see that when substituting to exceed (exceed what?). So, that's another reason to strike. Although, if seems to go is supposed to raise the question for adequacy, that hadn't been raised before, it might help to convey your train of thought. Aha, seems to be inadequate would also work.

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