Faced with delivering a certain number of words for a project can be challenging. Often, the immediate response is to fill the word count up with fluff. Places like free educational resources can help you overcome this urge, and deliver a paper or article that is worth the read.
Learn good habits from the outset by focusing on using fewer words to create a greater impact. Spot excessive wordiness, learn how to shorten sentences and paragraphs, aim at being concise in everything.
Limit your use of the word ‘and’ if it is redundant
Avoid the temptation to constantly use ‘and’ in sentences. Linking words with this conjunction often leads to redundancy. Eliminate the second half of the sentence, if it is primarily a repeated meaning of the first. For example, ‘each and every’ is redundant. Choose either ‘each’ or ‘every’ to get your point across. The ‘fifth and last point’ is a further example of a sentence that includes fluff. Either the ‘fifth’ point is the last, in which case you don’t need to repeat this fact, or it isn’t. Avoid redundancy to deliver a concise paper.
Use descriptive words in place of lengthy phrases
Lecturers love reading concise college papers because they make their lives easier. Teachers can immediately see a lack of effort when papers are short on facts and long on fluff. Meaning is camouflaged among too many words that add up to long phrases, but don’t add value. Some examples to avoid when aiming for conciseness are: ‘When considering the fact that the land was dry due to a drought,’ should be replaced with, ‘The lands were dry due to an ongoing drought.’ ‘In light of the perpetual political conflict, the economy had taken a downturn,’ may be replaced with ‘The economy dipped because of ongoing political conflict.’ Shorten phrases where feasible. Shorter sentences are easier to read, and long word counts contain greater meaning when more thoughtfully written.
Eliminate excessive qualifiers Qualifiers typically end in ‘ly,’ making these easier to identify. Other qualifiers encompass words like ‘very,’ ‘type of’ and ‘somewhat.’ Eliminate excessive use of these words, which don’t increase the meaning of a sentence. Go through each sentence to determine whether there are qualifiers that can be avoided. You will probably be able to reduce each sentence by one or two words, which is particularly important when writing longer works such as dissertations. If you need further help with dissertations, you will note that formats of formal academic work are important, as they are for business reports. Both of these presentations require strict rules, which include conciseness. Lecturers and business people don’t have the luxury of time to go through the fluff you’ve written to try and understand the overall intent of your work. If you can write something in 10 words, don’t use 20 to get your meaning across.
Minimize the use of prepositions
Prepositions include ‘at,’ ‘through,’ ‘on’ and similar words. Too many of these detracts from the meaning of phrases, resulting in confusion. Clarify what you want to say in your mind, and ask yourself what you’re trying to say before making changes. Identify the prepositions in each paragraph, and then attempt a re-write of each sentence if you discover excessive use of prepositions.
Example: ‘I was planning on going down to the supermarket to purchase some groceries, but quickly found that I had to go over the highway to get through loads of traffic because of an accident.’ This sentence reads better when more concise, ‘I had to cross the highway to get to the supermarket to purchase groceries because the regular road was blocked because of an accident.’
Use affirmative instead of negatives
Always keep your audience in mind when reading because negatives require more words. Use affirmatives when aiming for conciseness as fewer words are needed, and the meaning of shorter sentences is easier to follow.
Example: ‘Do not apply for work at ABD if you don’t have a degree, and haven’t yet had 5 years of work experience’.
Correction: ‘ABD only accepts job applicants who have a degree, and 5 years work experience’. The negative sentence contains 22 words, and the positive sentence contains 14 words.
Use the active voice
Use of the passive voice is always more concise than the use of negative phrasing. While it is not always possible to write each sentence using the active voice, it is possible to limit the percentage of your passive sentence in your overall work. With practice, it is possible to reduce the passive voice to under 10 percent of the completed job. Until then, try to aim for less than 20 percent in your article. To help you identify the active voice in your sentences, check whether they follow
the formula of SVO—subject, verb, object. Example: ‘Dogs love balls.’ In reverse,
this formula is OVS—object, verb, subject. Example: ‘Balls are loved by dogs.’
Stick to the active voice, which remains in the present tense, as opposed to the passive voice, which is in the past tense. Also, the passive voice requires extra words, which doesn’t comply with the need for conciseness.
Focus on your thesis
Concentrate on your thesis or the argument of your paper. Everything you write should maintain a focus on this argument, and what your goal is for writing the paper. Ensure that each sentence and paragraph supports your argument or counter-argument.
Read through your work once you’ve written the first draft to make sure that your thoughts have remained focused on your intent. Question what words and thoughts contribute to your end-goal, and which can be deleted. As uncomfortable as this process is, your end remarks will reflect your diligence.
Learn to write concisely from the start, especially when writing formal documents. Accurate, brief sentences hold the audience attention better than long-winded sentences that detract from the purpose of the document. You will also improve your credibility when your writing sticks to the point.
By Leon Collier
Author Bio: Leon Collier is an academic writer working for essay writing service UK and has adecade-long experience in the assignment writing field that covers theses, dissertations, term papers, homework college essays. In his free time on Sundays he likes to play tabletop games with his friends. You can follow him on twitter @LeonCollier12.