16 Effective Techniques To Write Concisely

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Conciseness in writing is crucial in whatever industry you may be in. It helps to make your business letter, reports, email messages, research, memos, and other forms of text easy to understand. Concise writing is the economy of words while clearly conveying your exact message and making your text flow well. By using appropriate words and substantive details, your reader can focus on your main point and pick up important details.  It makes your text easily understood with less time and effort. The challenge in concise writing, however, is when you have plenty of ideas at once. Putting on whatever details and words that come to your mind can make your text wordy. To make your writing succinct, there are some strategies. you can learn. The techniques below show different ways to eliminate wordiness.

1. Stay on point and skip unnecessary details

Waffling makes your text difficult to understand. It is the result of not sticking to the subject and including unrelated details. To avoid this, focus on one single direction. Remember that every detail you include must be geared towards proving your point or what you are trying to accomplish. Before you add another detail, ask yourself its purpose, and whether it can contribute to the development of your argument. Skip and omit details that are irrelevant to your audience.

Example:

Wordy

“I visited the site yesterday and have heard about the facility renovation proposal. I want to know your suggestion on this matter.”

Concise

“I heard about the facility renovation proposal. What are your suggestions for this?”

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2. Remove redundancy

One of the things that we have to watch out for when writing is redundancy. On certain occasions, you may express your message using redundant words without your intention. Redundancy is oftentimes meaningless and just makes your sentence confusing. One kind of redundancy that we often commit in writing is a tautology. It is the expression that says the same thing twice using equal words. Beware of this subtle mistake and avoid it by thinking carefully about the meaning of the words you are using. 

Example:

Wordy

“He is trying to tell his past history for us to understand him better.”

Concise

“He is telling his history for us to understand him.”

Note: 

History is already past. So there is no need to include the word” past” in this sentence. 

3. Check your adjectives

Adjectives are necessary to describe your main point and create a mental image; however, it must be used judiciously. Adjectives can make your sentence longer than they need to be. It can also make your writing confusing if they are compounded. Before using an adjective, ask yourself first if you really need it. Weigh whether it’s valuable to include it or can only distract from your main point.

Example:

Wordy 

“It is hard to see on black darkness.”

Concise

“It is hard to see on darkness”

Related Article: The Proper Use of –ed & -ing Adjectives

4. Reduce nominalizations

Nominalization takes place when a verb is made into a noun form.  Although using it can make your text sound impressive but can also make your writing verbose, less clear, and sound heavy. Using it will often require you to add more words to express your thoughts completely. Reduce your word count by replacing your noun form with an active verb. 

Example:

Wordy

“I need to see the analysis of the implemented procedure.”

Concise

“I need to analyze the implemented procedure.”

Related Article: Tips on How to Succeed in English Writing Tests

5. Avoid noun strings

Eschewing noun strings is another way to make your writing succinct. Noun strings is a series of nouns that describe the final noun. It is mostly composed of three words or more in a row hence can be confusing. Help your reader grasp information quickly by omitting unnecessary words or dividing it.  

Example:

Wordy

“We need to check our subscriber program satisfaction evaluation to make a reliable report.”

Concise

“We need to check the evaluation of subscriber satisfaction to make a reliable report”

Related Article: English Grammar: 5 Instances When You Don’t Use Articles to Modify Nouns

6. Refrain from using expletive constructions

Expletive constructions start sentences with there is, there are or it is. This makes your sentence start in a weak way and also lacks focus. Oftentimes your point does not need to be expressed with expletive construction. Using it will just add to the number of words. Make your writing concise by removing these expletives.  

Example:

Wordy

“There are several techniques to be learned.”

Concise

“Several techniques must be learned.”

Related Article: How to Use Metaphors and Similes when Comparing

 7. Use familiar and simple words

Achieve brevity in your writing by using direct language. Aiming to make your writing more impressive than easy to understand will only make it confusing and verbose. By using simple words, you can explain your point with a few words while ensuring it is clearly and directly delivered. Refrain from using flowery words, or jargon as they only make your writing sound pompous. It also requires you to use more words to explain the unfamiliar term. Remember that each word that you use can make your sentence confusing and longer or simpler and easy to understand. 

Example:

Wordy

“I have a plethora of artwork sample pieces to show you.”

Concise

“I have plenty of samples to show you”

Related Article: The 3 Common Mistakes When Using Modifiers and How to Fix Them

8. Use the shortest form of the word

Some elaborate words can be replaced by their simple alternatives which are shorter. Using longer words can make your message sound wordy, heavy, and intimidating. If you can find shorter forms of words then its best to use it than opting for the longer ones. Remember that the shorter a word it is, the easier to understand and remember it. Shorter words are more familiar as people normally use it.

Example:

Wordy

“The ceremony will commence at 1 pm.”

Concise

“The ceremony will begin at 1 pm “

Related Article: What’s the Difference Between “and so on” & “etc.”?

9. Avoid Euphemisms

A  euphemism is an indirect word or expression used to substitute a message that is blunt or offensive. It is often used for a well-meaning reason. It aims to diminish the seriousness of a condition to preserve one’s dignity or to prevent someone from getting hurt from a harsh reality. Although it is used for good reasons, it may lead to misinterpretation. Also, it can make a sentence verbose as it requires using more words to creatively express the message.

Example:

Wordy

“Because of my new role and added responsibilities, I need to hire a domestic manager that can help in keeping everything in the house organized.”

Concise

Because of my responsibilities, I need to hire a house helper.

Related Article: Common Expressions in Business Writing

10. Replace negative with positive constructions

Affirmative form of the sentence is usually direct while writing in a negative form would require you to use extra words. Double negatives can make your meaning harder to figure out plus includes unnecessary words. If your aim is to be concise, then opt for an affirmative. Reserve the use of negative construction for poetry and argumentative forms of writing. 

Example:

Wordy

“It was not uncommon for the area manager to visit the branches monthly.”

Concise

“It was common for the area manager to visit the branches monthly.”

Related Article: English Writing: Transition Words

11. Use shorter forms of transition 

Transition words and phrases are used to connect and show the relationship between details and sentences. Employing them in your writing can help in reducing wordiness. However, beware that some transition phrases can be replaced with a transition word. 

Example:

Wordy

“Considering the fact that the sales are continually decreasing due to the virus crisis, many of our branches will close soon.”

Concise

“Since sales are continually decreasing because of the virus crisis, many of our branches will close soon.”

Related Article: Different Techniques in Writing the Introduction of your Presentation

12. Omit unnecessary transitional phrase

Using a transition phrase can help to show a natural flow in your text; however, they must be used heedfully. If your message can be delivered without it, then, it can be eliminated. 

Example:

Wordy 

“We will be proceeding with the review of this case for the purpose of ensuring due process. 

Concise

“We will be proceeding with the review of this case to ensure due process.”

Related Article: 11 Mistakes in Writing a Cover Letter and their Quick Fix

13. Use pronouns

To avoid frequent repetition of nouns, pronouns are used. To use it appropriately, mention the subject through a noun first, to help the readers know the referent of the subsequent pronouns to be used. In areas where you think it might get confusing, use the noun again to re-establish what you are referring to.

Example:

Wordy 

“The manager will visit your branch next month to observe the implemented procedure. Expect that the manager will come with the manager’s staff.”

Concise

“The manager will visit your branch next month to observe the implemented procedure. Expect that he will come with his staff.”

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14. Refrain from referring back

The technique of sending the reader backward is often used to remind readers of what was previously mentioned. When writing concisely, linking back is often avoided. Employing this technique is oftentimes useless and just adds words to your writing. If you need to remind your readers of your previous point, you can just mention the subject of what was previously discussed and avoid explaining that it was explained earlier. 

Example:

Wordy

“In the previous chapters I discussed the importance of clarity and precision, this chapter focuses on writing concisely. 

Concise

“Related to clarity and precision, this chapter focuses on writing concisely”

Related Article: How to Write an Interesting Travel Story

15. Use punctuation marks appropriately

To make your writing succinct, there are some strategies. you can learn. The techniques in this article show different ways to eliminate wordiness.

Punctuation marks can help to make your writing more effective and succinct. As a general rule, use commas to split serial words, semicolons to connect related ideas, and periods to end your thought. On the other hand, the wrong usage of punctuation marks can make your text confusing, that’s why it is important to use it correctly. 

Example:

Wordy

“The staff couldn’t find any available public transportation after the seminar that is why they decided to check-in for the night.”

Concise

“The staff couldn’t find any available public transportation after the seminar; they decided to check-in for the night.”

Related Article: Understand the Importance of Punctuation Marks and know how to use them Properly

16. Edit

While you can apply the above-listed techniques during drafting, you can still improve your text in editing. When writing your first draft, you may use more words than necessary. A draft is just a raw form of your writing, but the finishing touches depend on editing. To make your writing concise and clear, it would normally require several revisions. This could mean rewording the sentences you creatively wrote or taking out irrelevant details you spend time researching. Although you may be tempted to retain the way you have originally written your text, keeping it will only serve as a burden. It will make your write-up harder to understand and sound awkward. When editing, stay objective to improve your overall work.

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The above-listed techniques are just guidelines you can use and not rules. Using them will enable you to write concisely. You may follow them on certain occasions, or not apply them at some point, as there are other better ways to express your idea. Whatever technique you may use, just make sure that you keep your text succinct. Writing concisely requires practice and may take more time and effort than you expect, however, the result will be a refined, and an on-point write-up. 

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Author
Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.