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Conciseness and Eliminating Wordiness

Writing concisely is one way to capture and retain readers' interest. By writing clearly and concisely, you will get straight to your point, so your audience can easily comprehend it. There are several techniques that can help you learn to write clearly and concisely.

The table below shows some commonly-used elaborate words and their simple alternatives.

Elaborate Word Simple Word

ascertain

commence, initiate

constitute

fabricate

terminate

transmit

utilize

find out

begin

make up

build begin

end

send

use

Techniques


Replace Vague Words with Specific Ones

Vague or abstract words tend to conceal your meaning. On the other hand, specific words precisely and shortly convey your meaning.

Example:

  • Vague: The Acme Corporation is developing a new consumer device that allows users to communicate vocally in real time.
  • Specific: The Acme Corporation is developing a new cell phone.

Avoid Overusing Expletives at the Beginning of Sentences

Expletives are phrases of the form it + be-verb or there + be-verb.

Example #1:

  • Wordy: It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills.
  • Concise: The governor signs or vetoes bills.

Example #2:

  • Wordy: There are four rules that should be observed.
  • Concise: Four rules should be observed.

Avoid Overusing Noun Forms of Verbs

Use verbs when possible rather than noun forms known as nominalizations.

Example:

  • Wordy: The function of this department is the collection of accounts.
  • Concise: This department collects accounts.

Eliminate Unnecessary Words

Unnecessary words can come in many forms like excessive detail, repetitive words, or redundant words.

Excessive Detail

  • Before: I received and read the email you sent yesterday about the report you’re writing for the project. I agree it needs a thorough, close edit from someone familiar with your audience.
  • After: I received your email about the project report and agree it needs an expert edit.

Repetitive words

  • Before: The engineer considered the second monitor an unneeded luxury.
  • After: The engineer considered the second monitor a luxury.

Redundant words

  • Before: The test revealed conduction activity that was peculiar in nature.
  • After: The test revealed peculiar conduction activity.

Replace Multiple Negatives with Affirmatives

Affirmatives, instead, convey concise meaning that needs no interpretation.

  • Before: Your audience will not appreciate the details that lack relevance.
  • After: Your audience will appreciate relevant details.

Revised 4/18


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