Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordiness - Cutting Until It's Right

Good writing is concise writing. That means cutting and editing until you've said exactly what you want to say without extra words or phrases or saying things twice.

How do you go about doing this? Well, lets see how we can correct wordiness. The book The Least You Should Know About English is the perfect "go to" book for finding information about wordiness.

There are several examples of wordiness that we can learn from:

1. Don't say something in ten words when five can do.

"At the present time" should be "at present" or "now"
"In this day and age" should be "today"

2. Don't say something twice.

"in the month of June" June is a month so it should be "in July"
"8:00 am in the morning" should be "8 am"
"in my personal opinion" should be "my opinion"

3. Don't use expressions that add nothing to the meaning of the sentence.

"The fact of the matter is that she is tired." should be "She is tired."

Here are more examples of wordiness:

Wordy Writing                                                                 Concise Writing
at that point in time                                                             then
there is no doubt but                                                           no doubt
he is a person who                                                              he
a person who is honest                                                        an honest person
there are many boys who                                                    many boys
he was there in person                                                        he was there
personally I think                                                                I think
my father he                                                                        my father
surrounded on all sides                                                       surrounded
during the winter months                                                    during the winter
brown in color                                                                    brown
refer back                                                                            refer
repeat again                                                                         repeat
two different kinds                                                              two kinds
free complimentary copy                                                    complimentary copy
free gift                                                                               gift
very unique                                                                         unique
past history                                                                          history
end result                                                                            result
and etc.                                                                               etc.
usual custom                                                                       custom
new innovation                                                                   innovation
the field of electronics                                                         electronics
no money at all                                                                   no money

If you'd like to take look at some practice sentences, see if you can edit correctly for wordiness.

1. It seems to that me that many of us use many more words than we really need in our writing.

2. It is interesting to note that the kiwi bird, which is found in New Zealand, sleeps 20 hours out of the 24 hours every day.

3. There are going to be several ideas of importance that will be presented and discussed.

4. He is a man who does as much work on his vacation as he does when he is at his regular job.

5. My past experience has made me convinced of the fact that one has to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities in investing money.

If you'd like, please write your corrections in the comments below. I look forward to seeing your answers.

Can you think of more wordiness phrases and how to make them more concise?

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