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Clarity and conciseness can be hurt by:

lack of specificity

using wordy or needless phrases (“based on the fact that” vs “because of”)

fancy words (“endeavor” vs “try”)

clutter words  (“I’m

currently

taking ENC 3213”)

redundancy (“

completely

eliminate” or “

the month of

August”)

repetition

unnecessary jargon

In fact, one trick I use when editing an electronic document is to use the “find” tool (often CTRL + F) and search for all words containing “ly”. Then I scrutinize each adverb and adjective that comes up to see if it’s necessary (keeping in mind that it may be.)

Another way to approach editing for conciseness is to hypothesize that Microsoft (or whatever company) will charge you $1 a word when you hit the “publish” or “send”  button on the doc you’re working with.

Of course, you never want to be so concise that you begin to actually hurt clarity. Finding the right balance is the goal. Also, restructuring the organization of your writing is often a more global and drastic way to effectively reduce length.

But let’s do a simple exercise to tune the way you look at your language a little more critically.

Task:

Edit the below sentences for conciseness, focusing on fancy words, wordy phrases, needless phrases, clutter, redundancy, and repetition, and submit your four new sentences. There is no right or wrong here–full credit will be given for a good-faith effort towards improving these statements.

A need for your caution exists.

We are currently in the situation of completing our investigation of all aspects of the accident.

We have failed to furnish the proposal to the proper agency by the mandated date by which such proposals must be in the receipt.

We remain in communication with our sales staff on a weekly basis.s

  
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