3 Easy Ways to Write More Concisely

By Mark Nichol

Writers can employ various categorical strategies to make their writing more active and concise. Here are three simple types of unnecessary wording to keep in mind (and out of one’s writing).

1. Extinguish Expletives

An expletive is an indirect phrase that only delays a reader’s acquaintance with the writer’s point. Expletives include “There is,” “there are,” “there was,” and “there were,” as well as any of these phrases with it substituting for there. It is not necessary to always delete expletives, as the current sentence demonstrates, but they should be employed judiciously. In most cases, simply sweep the expletive away and begin with a subject, as in revision of “There are other steps a company can take before an economic downturn to protect against its impact” to “A company can take other steps before an economic downturn to protect against its impact.”

2. Adjust Adjectives to Adverbs

Business-speak, when rendered as text, is often notoriously stilted and verbose. One class of wordy wording often found in business writing is represented by such adjective-noun phrases as “on a daily basis,” which is easily replaced by the adverbial form of the adjective (which in this case is identical: daily). Regarding similar usage, “This issue will be resolved on a case-by-case basis” is easily converted to “This issue will be resolved case by case.” (Again, the replacement is identical, though the hyphens are now superfluous.) Sometimes, the writer must replace the adjective, as in the case of timely, which is seldom used as an adverb and does not stand as such on its own: To render “in a timely manner” more concise, for example, simply substitute promptly.

3. Avoid Adjectives

Some adjectives and adverbs themselves are extraneous. Such qualifiers as currently and different almost never contribute to comprehension. For example, in “We are currently accepting applications,” the verb are clearly represents that acceptance of application is a current state, meaning that currently serves no useful purpose, and “These shirts come in seven different colors” provides no more information than “These shirts come in seven colors,” and different can therefore be omitted without negative consequences.

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3 Responses to “3 Easy Ways to Write More Concisely”

  • Mark Nichol

    venqax:
    Thanks for your note! The error has been corrected.

  • Steve Royster

    I try to use “timely” as an adverb: a timely filed response. People say it’s old and awkward, and I answer, “I know I am but what are you?

  • venqax

    “…as well as any of these phrases with is substituting for there.”
    Huh? Do you mean “it” substituting for there? I don’t understand this statement.

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