Three quick ways to make your writing more concise

2 July 2018

Your first draft of any written communication is likely to be wordier than it needs to be. This is normal. Even professional writers go back and refine their work to make it more concise. Small revisions can make a big impact, so at least one revision is always worth it.

When revising your draft, follow these three quick steps.

Step 1. Cut long sentences into two or more shorter ones. Aim for an average of between 15 and 20 words per sentence. Avoid sentences over 30 words and watch out for wordy lead-ins, such as ‘It is important to note’ or ‘I am writing to tell you that'.

Step 2. Eliminate unnecessary words. Prune the words and get rid of the 'fluff'. Get to the point and use only as many words as you need.

Wordy

It has come to my attention that the service/maintenance of this printer is well overdue and that it requires servicing as a matter of urgency.

Concise 

This printer needs immediate service.

Why use two or three words, when one will do? Watch out for wordy expressions and redundant words such as ‘month of September’, ‘at regular intervals’ and ‘sufficient number of’. Simply write ‘September’, ‘regularly’ and ‘enough’.

Step 3. Get rid of repetition. Unless you are reinforcing an important point, don’t present the same information twice in different words. Also avoid too much repetition of the same word such as ‘very’ or ‘currently’ or ‘implement’. Overuse of a word can become irritating to the reader as well as add unnecessary words.

Before you revise your draft, put it aside (preferably overnight) and come back to it later. The longer the break, the more you will be able to see your work with fresh eyes. Returning to your work with fresh eyes means you will do a better and more efficient job of revising.

Need help translating wordy documents into clear, concise language? Contact Concise Writing Consultancy today on 02 9238 6638.

 

 

 

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