How to Make Your Essay Writing Concise
To be concise means to get directly to the point. Concise writing is often clearer and more succinct. We can achieve conciseness in our writing in several ways.
The following examples are taken in part from Lynn Quitman Troyka’s The Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers, 6thed. Writing Concise
Cut unnecessary words and phrases
Wordy More Concise
at the present time now
at this point in time currently
in this day and age today
in todays society
at all times always
free up some space make room
dependent upon depends upon
in the event that if
somewhere in the neighborhood of about
for the purpose of for
Redundant Phrases More Concise Phrases
the exact same the same, exactly the same
blue in color blue
free gratis free, gratis
my personal favorite my favorite
rectangular in shape rectangular
my personal opinion my opinion
true fact fact
Notice how you can make each of the following sentences more concise by eliminating unnecessary and/or redundant words and phrases.
Wordy: As a matter of fact, it seems as though a great many folk beliefs that are popular are, in a very real sense, totally wrong.
Concise: A great many popular folk beliefs are totally wrong.
Wordy: For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology makes the statement that reading in the dark will not have the effect of ruining a person’s eyes.
Concise: For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that reading in the dark will not ruin a person’s eyes.
Avoid Expletive Constructions
An expletive construction starts with it or there followed by a form of the verb be.
Wordy: It is necessary for students to fill in both questionnaires. Concise: Students must fill in both questionnaires.
Wordy: There are three majors offered by the computer science department. Concise: Three majors are offered by the computer science department.
or . . . The computer science department offers three majors.
Avoid the Passive Voice
A writer uses active voice when the subject is doing the action; he/she uses passive voice when the subject is receiving the action, rather than doing the action. Active voice is more concise than passive voice.
Passive: Public speaking is taught by Professor Higgins. Active: Professor Higgins teaches public speaking.
Passive: Volunteer work was done by students for credit in sociology. Active: The students did volunteer work for credit in sociology.
or . . . Volunteer work earned students credit in sociology.
Repetitive: Bringing the project to final completion three weeks early, the supervisor of the project earned our respectful regard.
Concise: Completing the project three weeks early, the supervisor earned our respect.
Shorten Phrases and Cut Words
Wordy: Each and every person was hungry after the movie. Concise: Every person was hungry after the movie.
or . . . Each person was hungry after the movie.
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