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Tips for Concise Writing

Recently I had to write a paper that hit between 500 and 600 words. So I wrote, and I was on a roll, and by the time I finished typing, I realized that I had over 700 words. I read and reread my paper and managed to trim it down. Only two days later someone came to me with a similar problem. So how do we trim words out of papers without effecting the content?

1. Check for passive voice.

Some people may argue that using the passive voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but no one can argue that using the passive voice requires more words. If you switch a sentence from passive to active voice, you’ll not only cut down the word count but also strengthen your writing.

(Check our Google+ page for more information on passive voice.)

2. Avoid repetition.

Don’t repeat words, don’t repeat phrases, and don’t repeat ideas all within the same sentence.

(Imagine how many words I’d cut out if I didn’t repeat, ‘don’t repeat’, over and over again.)

Examples:

“I started dancing ten years ago and have been dancing the tango ever since then.”

“I have been dancing the tango for ten years.”

“He quickly ran fast towards the house.”

“He ran quickly towards the house.”

3. Remove inflated phrases.

There’s a great chart about half way down this page that lists inflated phrases and what singular words they can easily be replaced with.

There are numerous other phrases and words that you can look for to cut out of your writing and reduce your word count, but the best method is to be aware. Consider as you write if the words and phrases you are using actually are doing something. Are they contributing to the overall meaning? Even if you aren’t trying lower your word count, writing in a concise and clear manner makes for stronger papers and writing!

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