Posted by: Jack Henry | March 19, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Eliminate Wordiness

Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and adjusting to the new normal. It’s normal for you to get an Editor’s Corner email on Thursday, so let’s get going! I hope you find this useful. 😊

One of the hardest things for writers to do is write succinctly. Especially in professional writing, the fewer words you use, the better. Before sending an email or posting or publishing a document, you always want to look for and remove unnecessary words and phrases (they’re unnecessary when they don’t add any value or meaning to the sentence).

I’ll give you some examples, but be aware that there is always more than one way to revise a wordy sentence. The revisions I provide are only one suggestion; there are other possibilities. Your goal should be to use as few words as possible while retaining clarity.

First draft of sentence Revised sentence
He dropped out of school on account of the fact that it was necessary for him to help support his family. He dropped out of school to help support his family.
It is very unusual to find someone who has never told a lie on purpose. Rarely will you find someone who has never lied on purpose.
In the not too distant future, technology companies will need to become aware of the fact that there is a need for them to try to figure out what’s coming in the future instead of just keeping up with the trends. Technology companies need to predict future possibilities rather than simply keep up with current trends.

Sometimes, as you revise to reduce wordiness, you’ll just remove a word or two, but sometimes your first draft is more “stream of consciousness” and needs a little more fine-tuning. The mistake most people make is to assume their first draft is “good enough.” All the best writers revise. And then they usually revise again. It often takes a few revisions to make a piece of writing clear and concise. If it is effortless to read, it was probably written by someone who took the time to revise.

And just a warning you probably don’t need about reviewing your text messages before you send them. The autocorrect feature can cause a world of embarrassment. While looking for an example I came across a slew of hilarious texts gone wrong. Here’s one that won’t get me fired:

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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