Eliminating Wordiness in Writing

by Kara Kahnke

Eliminating wordiness makes writing more concise and engaging. Active voice creates tighter writing than passive voice. In passive voice, something is being done to the subject of the sentence by someone or something else.

Passive voice: “The pizza was eaten by George.”

Active voice: “George ate the pizza.”

The bottom sentence demonstrates active voice because the subject of the sentence performs the action. Eliminating “to be” verbs such as is, are, was, and were, helps banish passive voice from your writing (Toadvine, Brizee & Angeli, 2012).

Eliminating extra modifiers such as actually, really, probably, basically and very also helps wordiness. These words clutter your writing without offering the reader additional information (Tobey, Eliminating Wordiness).

The words which and that contribute to wordiness. A wordy example: “The staff meeting, which occurs weekly, discusses organizational policies.”

A tighter example: “The weekly staff meeting discusses organizational policies” (Kilborn, Strategies).

Some phrases create redundancy in your writing. Eliminate phrases like “12 noon” or “each and every” Pick one of the words in the phrases and go with it (Larson, Writing).

Introductory phrases often don’t enhance writing. Delete phrases like “as a matter of fact” or “in any case” from your work (Larson, Writing).

Eliminate “tion” constructions. For example: “The officer’s job involves interrogation of suspects

A less wordy example: “The officer interrogates suspects.” ” (Kilborn, Strategies)

These are some examples you can use to strike wordiness from your writing. You’ll deliver a stronger impact with practice.


References Kilborn, Judith. “Strategies for Eliminating Wordiness.” St. Cloud University. Retrieved from: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/style/wordiness.html

Larson, Gary. “Writing Concise Sentences” Retrieved from: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/concise.htm

Tobey, Dava. “Eliminating Wordiness How to Streamline Your Writing.” Retrieved from: http://www.cf.edu/departments/instruction/lsc/Writing_docs/Capstone/Eliminating%20Wordiness%20in%20Formal%20Writing.pdf

Toadvine, Brize & Angeli, (2012). “Active Verses Passive Voice. Purdue University. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/539/02/

Retrieved from: http://www.cf.edu/departments/instruction/lsc/Writing_docs/Capstone/Eliminating%20Wordiness%20in%20Formal%20Writing.pdf


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