Cut Extra Words to Add Strength to Your Business Writing - dummies

Cut Extra Words to Add Strength to Your Business Writing

By Natalie Canavor

Extra words that don’t support your meaning dilute business writing strength. Aim for concise. Zero in on individual sentences for ways to tighten. Here’s a case in point:

With the use of this new and unique idea, it will increase the profits for the magazine in one particular month, July.

Extra words hurt the sentence’s readability and generate bad grammar. Even though the sentence is fairly short, it manages to jam in two prepositions (of and for), an altogether useless phrase (with the use of), and an unnecessary word repetition — new and unique. Of course, the sentence construction is confusing as a result. A better version:

This new idea will increase the magazine’s profits, particularly in July.

An objective look at your sentences may reveal words and phrases that obviously repeat the same idea. Here’s a sentence which talks about editing hard copy from a computer print-out:

Of course, you must then transfer your changes to the original on your computer.

In context, the original document was clearly on the computer, so the unnecessary phrase was cut:

Of course, you must then transfer the changes to your computer.

Consider this explanation of Track Changes:

Now when you make a change, the alteration is indicated in a color and any deletion is shown on the right.

The rewrite:

Your changes then show up in color, and deletions appear outside the text on the far right.

The revision works better because it eliminates unnecessary words and with them, the passive construction of alteration is indicated and deletion is shown.

Take aim at common phrases that slow down reading. Substitute simple words. Often you can substitute single words for formal, space-wasting phrases. The words on the left are almost always non-contributors; choose those on the right. Try making a list of the phrases you often use and consciously minimize them. Your writing will move a big step forward.

Wordy Better
at this time now
for the purpose of for, to
the reason for that because
in accordance with under
is able to can
it is necessary that must, should
in an effort to to
in order to to
in regard to about
in the amount of for
in the event of if
in anticipation of before
in the near future soon
on the occasion of when
is indicative of indicates
is representative of represents
regardless of the fact that although
on a daily basis daily