Conciseness and Clarity
You can eliminate wordiness in your writing if . . .
Peruse the following list and identify changes you can make to reduce wordiness in your writing. While it can be helpful to make these changes, be sure that the message is still clear in your writing before doing so.
It is expensive to upgrade computer systems.
Upgrading computer systems is expensive.
The director is concerned about problems. Typical problems may occur with lighting, sound, and props.
The director is concerned about typical problems with lighting, sound, and props.
Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols. This has lessened the ozone layer's depletion.
Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols, lessening the ozone layer's depletion.
The committee, which meets monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.
The committee, meeting monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.
Because the fluid, which was brown and poisonous, was dumped into the river, the company that was negligent had to shut down.
Because the brown, poisonous fluid was dumped into the river, the negligent company had to shut down.
Rain forests are being destroyed by uncontrolled logging.
Uncontrolled logging is destroying rain forests.
A new fire curtain is necessary for the stage.
The stage needs a new fire curtain.
The South African government was undergoing significant changes.
The South African government underwent significant changes.
The environmental council could see several solutions.
The environmental council saw several solutions.
I submitted an application for the job.
I applied for the job.
The President of the Student Senate was in charge of the lobbying against the merger at the Minnesota Congress.
The Student Senate President oversaw lobbying the Minnesota Congress against the merger.
The theater has three main technical areas. These areas are costumes, scenery, and lighting.
The theater has three main technical areas: costumes, scenery, and lighting.
Content copied and adapted by Peace Ossom Williamson for educational purposes from Strategies for Reducing Wordiness (http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/style/wordiness.html) by Judith Kilborn and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.
See pages 178-181 of the manual for more information.
Three or fewer? If you have list of three or fewer items, you must keep them within the paragraph. Ex: "The participant’s three choices were (a) working with another participant, (b) working with a team, and (c) working alone..” Set the elements with a series of lowercase letters in parentheses.
Three or more? In this case, you can keep these items within a sentence or paragraph, or you can separate them out into a list and capitalize and punctuate each item as if it were a complete sentence. Separate each item in the list with a lower-case letter and a period, for example:
a. Example 1
b. Example 2
c. Example 3
Bullets or numbers?
Use numbers for an ordered list.
Use bullets for a list where the items do not need to be in a specific order.
See pages 189-191 of the manual for more information.
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