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Eliminating wordiness

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Eliminating wordiness

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