As you revise, proofread, and finalize what you’ve written, whack all the extra words you can to sharpen your message in compelling ways.
Eliminate extraneous phrases such as:
“there is” and “there will be”
e.g., There will be many candidates who are already planning to move. Better: Many candidates may be already planning to move.
“It is all about”; “the fact of the matter is”; “the fact that”
e.g., The fact of the matter is that it’s unwise to go out carousing. Better: It’s unwise to go out carousing.
“in regards to”
e.g., There may be additional sites you should seek out in regards to your industry. Better: Seek additional sites related to your industry.
“is going to”
e.g., He is going to be a key asset. Better: He will be a key asset.
“in order to”
e.g., Add key words in order to describe the new position. Better: Add key words to describe the new position.
“is intended to, meant to, designed to”
e.g., Prescreening is intended to focus on key aspects of the position. Better: Prescreening focuses on key aspects of the position.
“the reason why is that . . .” (a simple “because” will suffice)
Take out these wobbly words whenever you can:
some “We rely on some long-standing methods.”
much “Jobs posted on the internet reach a much larger audience.”
very “Get ready to do a very good job.”
quite a few “It’s been quite a few days since we spoke.” Be specific; use a number.
that “Find information that you can apply easily.”
Note: The word that doesn’t substitute for who when referring to a human being. E.g., “. . . a person that plays the piano” should be “a person who plays the piano.”
Knock out redundancies such as:
at the present time
spell out in detail
visible to the eye
Think of these extra words as layers of onion skin before you get to the usable part. Peel them from your writing. – Diana Booher, Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar
Replace phrases with single words where appropriate:
“a great number of” with “many”
“ahead of schedule” with “early”
“during the time that” with “while”
“give consideration to” with “consider”
“in spite of the fact that” with “although”
Change nouns to verbs:
“the examination of” becomes “examine”
“reach a decision” becomes “decide”
“the transformation of” becomes “transform”
“the reorganization of” becomes “reorganize”
Revise long-winded sentences:
Chop a long sentence into two – and make sure they both sound correct!
Combine thoughts and ideas when you can.
Question every single word – especially every adverb and adjective.
Take out the ones that don’t add to the meaning.
Rout out words that are inadvertently used twice:
“Following a process for hiring, we followed his techniques.” Better: “Following a process for hiring, we adopted his techniques.”
“Hoping for warm weather, we hoped to book our vacation in the south.” Better: “Hoping for warm weather, we booked our vacation in the south.”
Let absolutes be absolute:
e.g., Ever heard someone say “his bucket is emptier (or more empty) than mine”? How can something be emptier than empty? The same holds true for all absolute words. Drop the “less” or “more” in front of these:
Get rid of tag-ons to verbs:
refer back to
Employ these tips today and you’ll see how quickly your writing improves!
“Barbara McNichol’s teleclass Whack Wordiness was extremely valuable and brilliantly presented. Barbara has been the editor of my book, several articles and letters. I would not send out anything important without getting Barbara’s expertise and keen eye for perfection first.” – Maureen Minnehan Jones