Ways to Make Your Writing Concise, Part 2

by tutor Darla: www.tutapoint.com/darla.n

I don’t remember ever being taught how to make writing concise, so I’ve thought more about how I trim words. I hope that the following information about redundancies, expletive constructions, and verb phrases is helpful.

Redundancies might seem to add emphasis. But they force readers to process additional words, which can impede comprehension, according to Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers.

Some redundant phrases to avoid:

  • free gift: gift
  • up until: until
  • many (or other amount adjective or number) different: many
  • small (or other size adjective) in size: small
  • true fact: fact
  • in my personal opinion: in my opinion or I think
  • personally, I think: I think (Hacker 130)

Another way to cut words is to watch for phrases starting with there is/are, it is, and there was/were (Hacker 133). Example: There is another book that describes the history of grammar. Concise version: Another book describes the history of grammar.

Also, I said in my previous post on conciseness to use more verbs. You can slash word count further by revising verb phrases in three ways.

First, use –ing form more than infinitive form. Infinitive form, also called base form, is the one seen with to. For example, the infinitive form of swim appears in, “I like to swim.” I can shorten that sentence by using the –ing form: “I like swimming.”

Second, use simple past tense more than would + infinitive form. Narrative writing tends to use would + infinitive, as in, “I would swim two hours a day.” This is fine when describing a routine, in essence, when adding always after would makes sense. Alternatively, this is fine when describing something hypothetical, as in, “If I had a million dollars, I would…”

Outside of those two situations, try using simple past tense. The revised version of the previous paragraph’s first example is, “I swam two hours a day.”

Third, avoid passive voice. The sentence, “The 500-yard freestyle was won by me,” could become, “I won the 500-yard freestyle.”

In conclusion, here are general wordy phrases to avoid:

  • as a matter of fact: in fact
  • at all times: always
  • by means of: by
  • don’t/doesn’t have: lack(s)
  • give it a try: try it
  • has/have no: lack(s)
  • in need of: need(s)
  • in the event of: if
  • it seems that: apparently
  • would like: want, desire, request (when context doesn’t call for softening the message) (Hacker 132)


Writing concisely is important because it saves readers time. Concise writing is valuable in business, to give one example. I recommend checking every draft for conciseness to ease reading.

Work Cited: Hacker, Diana. Rules for Writers. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. Print.

This post originally appeared as a post I wrote for blog.enroll.com

  • Subject : Language Arts
  • Topic : English I, English II, English III, English IV / Advanced Placement, Creative Writing, British Literature
  • Posted By : Darla
  • Created on : 06-24-2014

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