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Making Writing More Concise

By Barbara Gastel | July 7, 2014

Greetings again. I hope you’re doing well.

Some of you, though, might be facing a common challenge: making some writing short enough. Maybe you drafted an abstract but it exceeds the word limit. Or maybe you drafted a paper or proposal but it has more pages than allowed.

If you don’t want to delete content, what can you do? Quite likely, you can say the same things more briefly. In other words, you can make the writing more concise.

How can you make writing more concise? Here are some suggestions:

  • Where possible, use the shorter word. For example, say try instead of attempt, show instead of demonstrate, and many instead of numerous.
  • Delete needless words. For example, say in physics rather than in the field of physics, green rather than green in color, and destroy rather than completely destroy.
  • Condense wordy phrases. For example, say later rather than at some future time, can rather than is able to, and if rather than in the event that.
  • Use verbs rather than nouns made from them. For example, say contribute rather than make contributions, relieve rather than produce relief of, and affect rather than have effects on.

By doing such items, I usually can shorten a draft by at least 5 to 10 percent. As well as helping to reduce writing to an allowable length, such items tend to make writing easier to read.

For more guidance on writing concisely, I suggest doing a Google search using the phrase writing concisely. Doing so yields many resources on the topic.

Until the next post—



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