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Ways To Make Your Writing Concise

By tutor Darla Nagel: www.tutapoint.com/darla.n

Who likes seeing the comment “Wordy” in the margin? Who likes reading writing that takes forever to get to the point? Assuming you like neither one, read on for ways to make writing concise. For me, trimming unnecessary words is like de-cluttering—it’s fun!

A simple way to cut words is to find overused ones that add little punch, such as very and really. Another simple way is to use an apostrophe and s to indicate possession more than the “[noun] of the [noun]” construction. Example: the university’s faculty instead of the faculty of the university.

Also, use more verbs and fewer nouns. Many wordy phrases use a verb with a noun to express an idea that one precise verb can express. Example: consider instead of take into consideration.

Those three tricks should help. However, I’ll also provide two lists of phrases to revise: one of redundancies and one of wordy phrases.

Redundancies to trim

  • and also
  • while also
  • collaborate together
  • together with
  • each and every
  • end result
  • final conclusion
  • future plan
  • past history
  • still remain

Wordy phrases and concise equivalents that work in nearly any sentence

  • in order to: to
  • due to the fact that: because of
  • despite the fact that: although
  • in general: generally
  • with [something] in mind: considering [something]
  • whether or not: whether
  • for the purpose of: for
  • at the same time: simultaneously, together
  • in regard to: regarding, about
  • on a daily basis: daily (other time-related words appear in this phrase, such as weekly and regular)
  • a number of: numerous, some, many
  • at the present time, at this point in time, at the moment: now (I find it ironic how many long phrases mean now!)
  • in this day and age: today, in this day/age
  • period of time: period, time
  • prior to: before
  • is capable of, has the ability to: can
  • make use of: use
  • put up with: tolerate
  • is/are effective: work(s)

Now, I advise applying my suggestions to a long paragraph you’ve written. Count the number of words in it, and try cutting 10 percent of them. Then, if you can cut 10 percent more without compromising the meaning, do it.

We use more words than necessary when speaking. Therefore, writing concisely doesn’t come naturally. Ironically, I had to revise the previous sentence for wordiness (10 words long). Revise with my lists nearby to state points more efficiently.

This post originally appeared as a blog post on blog.enroll.com.


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