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Conciseness How to say more with fewer words
The information in this presentation is from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab Effective writing is concise, with no unnecessary words. The term "wordy“ refers to writing that includes unnecessary words. "Wordiness" refers to the use of unnecessary words to express ideas that can be expressed with fewer words. Note that a sentence is not "wordy" just because it is long. A sentence can be long and concise.
Connection to AP Language? In every kind of an essay you have to write in AP Language exam, they are looking for an “effective” writing. n For example, in the AP scoring guideline for an argument essay, it says, “Essays earning a score of 8 effectively defend, challenge, or qualify” the claim given in the question. n
You own it! n n If your name is on the paper, readers know to expect your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. You do not to remind your audience of your thinking by using: I think that I believe that I feel that in my opinion It is my belief that It is my opinion that I think cats make the worst pets. (wordy) Cats make the worst pets. (concise) In my opinion, caller I. D. is an invasion of privacy. (wordy) Caller I. D. is an invasion of privacy. (concise)
Eliminate unnecessary determiners and modifiers n Writers sometimes clog up their prose with one or more extra words or phrases that seem to determine narrowly or to modify the meaning of a noun but don't actually add to the meaning of the sentence. n Wordy Any particular type of dessert is fine with me. Balancing the budget by Friday is an impossibility without some kind of extra help. n n n More Concise Any dessert is fine with me. Balancing the budget by Friday is impossible without extra help.
Prune those common words/phrases… A list of some words and phrases that can often be pruned away to make sentences clearer: n n n kind of sort of type of specific really basically for all intents and purposes particular definitely actually generally individual Wordy n For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity generally depends on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect. More Concise n American industrial productivity depends more on psychological than on technological factors.
Change phrases into single words Using phrases to convey meaning that could be presented in a single word contributes to wordiness. Convert phrases into single words when possible. Look for prepositions to eliminate. Wordy n The employee with ambition. . . n The department showing the best performance. . . n Jeff Converse, our chief of consulting, suggested at our last board meeting the installation of microfilm equipment in the department of data processing. More Concise n The ambitious employee. . . n The best-performing department. . . n At our last board meeting, Chief Consultant Jeff Converse suggested that we install microfilm equipment in the data processing department. n As you edit, first find nominalizations that you can replace with verb phrases.
Change unnecessary that, who, and which clauses into phrases Using a clause to convey meaning that could be presented in a phrase or even a word contributes to wordiness. Convert modifying clauses into phrases or single words when possible. Wordy n The report, which was released recently. . . n All applicants who are interested in the job must. . . n The system that is most efficient and accurate. . . More Concise n The recently released report. . . n All job applicants must. . . n The most efficient and accurate system. . .
Avoid overusing expletives at the beginning of sentences n n n Expletives are phrases of the form it + be-verb or there + be-verb. Such expressions can be rhetorically effective for emphasis in some situations, but overuse or unnecessary use of expletive constructions creates wordy prose. Take the following example: "It is imperative that we find a solution. " The same meaning could be expressed with this more succinct wording: "We must find a solution. “ The most common kind of unnecessary expletive construction involves an expletive followed by a noun and a relative clause beginning with that, which, or who. In most cases, you can create a more concise sentence by eliminating the expletive opening, making the noun the subject of the sentence, and eliminating the relative pronoun. Wordy n n n It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills. There are four rules that should be observed: . . . There was a big explosion, which shook the windows, and there were many people running into the street. More Concise n n n The governor signs or vetoes bills. Four rules should be observed: . . . A big explosion shook the windows, and people ran into the street.
Use active rather than passive verbs Wordy n An account was opened by Mrs. Simms. n Your figures were checked by the research department. More Concise n Mrs. Simms opened an account. n The research department checked your figures.
Active Voice n In sentences written in active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb; The object appears after the subject.
Passive Voice n In sentences written in passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed in the verb; the subject is acted upon. The agent performing the action may appear in a "by the. . . " phrase or may be omitted.
Avoid overusing noun forms of verbs Use verbs when possible rather than noun forms known as nominalizations. Sentences with many nominalizations usually have forms of be as the main verbs. Using the action verbs disguised in nominalizations as the main verbs--instead of forms of be--can help to create engaging rather than dull prose. Wordy n The function of this department is the collection of accounts. n The current focus of the medical profession is disease prevention. More Concise n This department collects accounts. n The medical profession currently focuses on disease prevention. n
Reword unnecessary infinitive phrases Some infinitive phrases can be converted into finite verbs or brief noun phrases. Making such changes also often results in the replacement of a be-verb with an action verb. Wordy n The duty of a clerk is to check all incoming mail and to record it. n A shortage of tellers at our branch office on Friday and Saturday during rush hours has caused customers to become dissatisfied with service. More Concise n A clerk checks and records all incoming mail. n A teller shortage at our branch office on Friday and Saturday during rush hours has caused customer dissatisfaction. n
Replace circumlocutions with direct expressions Circumlocutions are commonly used roundabout expressions that take several words to say what could be said more succinctly. n We often overlook them because many such expressions are habitual figures of speech. In writing, though, they should be avoided since they add extra words without extra meaning. Wordy n At this/that point in time. . . n In accordance with your request. . . More Concise n Now/then. . . n As you requested. . . n
Common circumlocutions that can be compressed into just one word: n the reason for the reason that owing the fact that due to the fact that in light of the fact that considering the fact that on the grounds that n this is why n n n n n on the occasion of in a situation in which under circumstances in which =because, since, why =when
More wordy constructions + alternatives n as regards in reference to with regard to concerning the matter of n where ____ is concerned n n it is crucial that it is necessary that there is a need/necessity for it is important that n cannot be avoided n n n =about =must, should
Wordy constructions cont’d n n n n is able to has the opportunity to has the capacity for has the ability to it is possible that there is a chance that it could happen that the possibility exists for Wordy It is possible that nothing will come of these preparations. She has the ability to influence the outcome. It is necessary that we take a stand on this pressing issue. = can =may, might, could More Concise Nothing may come of these preparations. She can influence the outcome. We must take a stand on this pressing issue.
Omit repetitive wording The following is a list of redundant wording: past memories m various differences m each individual m basic fundamentals m true facts m important essentials m future plans m terrible tragedy m end result m final outcome m free gift m past history m unexpected surprise m sudden crisis m
Redundant Categories Specific words imply their general categories, so we usually don't have to state both. We know that a period is a segment of time, that pink is a color, that shiny is an appearance. In each of the following phrases, the general category term can be dropped, leaving just the specific descriptive word: q large in size often times of a bright color heavy in weight period in time round in shape at an early time q economics field q q q o of cheap quality honest in character of an uncertain condition in a confused state unusual in nature extreme in degree o of a strange type o o o
One more list AVOID (use these instead) due to the fact that (because) be of the opinion that (think) because of the fact that (because) disappear from view (disappear) at this point in time (now) tall in height (tall) at that point in time (then) small in size (small) he is a man who (he) short in length (short) in today's world (today) in a hasty manner (hastily) this day and age (today) this is a subject that (this subject) has the ability (can) the reason why is that (because) in order to (to) the question as to whether (whether) during the same time that (when) under the impression that (believe, think) during the time that (while) given the fact that (because) until such time as (until) each and every one (every one) in spite of the fact that (although) put forth an effort (try) by means of (by) whole entire (whole or entire)
Remember…Description = nbetter, stronger words n NOT more words!
Exercises Revise these sentences to state their meaning in fewer words. Avoid passive voice, needless repetition, and wordy phrases and clauses. These exercises are from Purdue University Online Writing Lab. 1. Although Bradley Hall is regularly populated by students, close study of the building as a structure is seldom undertaken by them.
Exercises-Continued 2. He dropped out of school on account of the fact that it was necessary for him to help support his family.
Exercises-Continued 3. It is expected that the new schedule will be announced by the bus company within the next few days.
Exercises-Continued 4. There are many ways in which a student who is interested in meeting foreign students may come to know one.
Possible Answers 1. Bradley Hall is usually filled with students who do not study the building as a structure. 2. He dropped out of school to support his family.
Answers continued 3. The bus company will probably announce its schedule during the next few days. 4. Any student who wants to meet foreign students can do so in many ways.
The best description is vivid and concise… End of presentation.