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Twelve tips for eliminating wordiness
Good academic writing is clear and concise. These strategies can help you reduce wordiness in your own writing.
Avoid using a phrase when a word will do
at this point in time = now
has the ability to = can
in this day and age = today
is aware of the fact that = knows
due to the fact that = because
the majority of = most
on a daily basis = daily
each and every one = all
in close proximity to = near
Eliminate redundant words
the reason [why] the [final] conclusion
[utmost] perfection enter [into]
[the month of] August [totally] oblivious
[the colour] green [past] experience
mix [together] correct [amount of] change
[viable] alternative [future] prospects
Avoid needless repetition
In trauma victims, breathing is restored by artificial respiration. Techniques of artificial respiration include mouth-to-mouth respiration and mouth-to-nose respiration.
In trauma victims, breathing is restored by artificial respiration, either mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose.
Drop most 'there is' and 'there are' sentence openers
Dropping these openers places key words at the end of the sentence where they are best emphasized:
✘ There are serious consequences in failing to yield right of way.
✓ Failing to yield right of way can have serious consequences.
Avoid some 'it' sentence openers
✘ It gives me great pleasure to introduce our speaker.
✓ I am pleased to introduce our speaker.
Delete needless 'to be' constructions
Forms of the verb “to be” (is, was, are, etc.) often add clutter without adding meaning: I find some of his stories [to be] amusing.
Avoid weak, wordy verbs
is in conflict with = conflicts
make an assumption = assume
come to a conclusion = conclude
take action = act
make a decision = decide
come to the realization = realize
Eliminate needless prepositions
✘ Some members of the committee made these recommendations.
✓ Some committee members made these recommendations.
✘ A man by the name of Godot is waiting for you.
✓ A man named Godot is waiting for you.
Use 'that' and 'which' sparingly
This [is a] writing problem [that] is easy to correct.
The book [, which is] about Hemingway [,] is fascinating.
Fight noun addiction
Nouns manufactured from verbs (nominalizations) make your sentences weak and wordy. Weak verbs and needless prepositions often accompany nominalizations:
✘ Give consideration to the possibility of changing jobs.
✓ Consider changing jobs.
Keep the subject clear
Nominalizations can make a sentence vague by hiding the agent of the action, i.e., the subject performing the verb. For example:
✘ A need for immediate action exists.
✓ We must act immediately.
Make negatives positive
did not succeed = failed
does not have = lacks
did not prevent = allowed