Lesson 3


Write Concisely

 

Competencies

This lesson teaches the following competencies:

  1. Cut words without losing meaning.

  2. Omit superfluous words.

  3. Don't use phrases with redundancies.

 

Lesson Summary

The lesson summary contains the training information with few examples and activities. Read it if you want to go through the training more quickly. To skip to the full, detailed lesson, click here.

 

When you "decide" rather than "make a decision," you're using one word in place of three. When you say "Please register" instead of "Please sign up at the registration desk," you are using two words instead of seven. Using fewer words makes your writing clearer and saves time.

Examples of simple words:

USE
NOT
refer
make reference to
resolve
reach a resolution
settle
enter into an agreement
must
is required to

Drop words that don't add anything to the text. Convey your message in as few words as possible, directly and simply. Look for deadwood and prune it out of your writing.

Exercise:

Shorten the following sentence while conveying the same meaning:

 

As per the agreement contract agreed to and signed at purchase, defective software will be replaced forthwith upon receipt in our offices of the defective merchandise software.

 

 




 

Omit Superfluous Words

Because time has value in business, every document, including e-mail, must contain only words that add meaning. Readers should receive and understand the message quickly and accurately. Write concisely to help readers grasp the main ideas by making every word specific and concrete.

Don't use these superfluous words:

"the fact that. . .,"

"consideration should be given to the possibility that. . .,"

"in my opinion, it seems that. . .,"

"it should not be forgotten that. . .,"

"in large part, it is our anticipation that. . .,"

"in terms of. . ."

 

Don't Use Phrases with Redundancies

Many phrases commonly used in business writing contain redundancies. You will eliminate many unnecessary words simply by using the shorter alternative.

Eliminate the redundancies from each of the following pairs of words. Which one word remains?

Phrases
Answers
1. past history
2. join together
3. is currently
4. within the confines of

 

Full, Detailed Lesson

Writing Concisely

When you "decide" rather than "make a decision," you're using one word in place of three. When you say "Please register" instead of "Please sign up at the registration desk," you are using two words instead of seven. Using fewer words makes your writing clearer and saves time.

Examples of simple words:

USE
NOT
refer
make reference to
resolve
reach a resolution
settle
enter into an agreement
must
is required to

Drop words that don't add anything to the text. Convey your message in as few words as possible, directly and simply. Look for deadwood and prune it out of your writing.

Example:

Wordy: I understand how, with your busy schedule of day-to-day activities, it will be difficult for you to wait at your house for delivery when our package arrives, so I have taken pains to ensure that the delivery person will let you know well in advance when he or she will make the UPS delivery to your house.

Revised: I understand how your busy schedule will make it difficult for you to be at home for our delivery, so I have asked UPS to let you know when the delivery will be made.

Note: The revised text is shorter by 40 percent. That means the writer wrote the message in 40 percent less time and the reader received the message 40 percent faster. The reader can then act more quickly.

Exercise 1: Cutting Words Without Losing Meaning

Rewrite this sentence substituting shorter, simpler words:

 

In reference to your e-mail of January 10 requesting the procedure for installation of the software, the preparatory procedure for installation is enclosed herein.

 



Exercise 2:

Shorten the following sentence while conveying the same meaning:

 

As per the agreement contract agreed to and signed at purchase, defective software will be replaced forthwith upon receipt in our offices of the defective merchandise software.

 

 




 

Omit Superfluous Words

Because time has value in business, every document, including e-mail, must contain only words that add meaning. Readers should receive and understand the message quickly and accurately. Write concisely to help readers grasp the main ideas by making every word specific and concrete.

Don't use these superfluous words:

"the fact that. . .,"

"consideration should be given to the possibility that. . .,"

"in my opinion, it seems that. . .,"

"it should not be forgotten that. . .,"

"in large part, it is our anticipation that. . .,"

"in terms of. . ."

Example:

SUPERFLUOUS WORDS: There is no doubt but that John was unaware of the fact that his client had made his arrival.

BETTER: John didn't know that his client had arrived.

Be straightforward and direct in your e-mails. Always prefer one word when it will do the work of two or three.

Exercise:

Rewrite these sentences eliminating superfluous words:

 

Notification of manufacturer defects must be submitted on or before the deadline date of March 1 unless it is true that the aforesaid defects are in appearance in one form or another before said date.

 

 





 

Our investigation of the problem outlined in detail as per your e-mail of August 4 confirmed our suspicions that the underlying apparent difficulty lies with the manner in which the software itself was installed into the computer rather than any and all inherent problems and other integral difficulties with the software involved in this investigation.

 

 



 

 

All in all, the most advantageous plan of action considering your needs and those of your company is to return the aforementioned system for a full refund of the purchase price and taxes and substitute the previously detailed, newer up-to-date system, that will suit your needs, wants, and wishes.

 




 

Don't Use Phrases with Redundancies

Many phrases commonly used in business writing contain redundancies. You will eliminate many unnecessary words simply by using the shorter alternative.

Eliminate the redundancies from each of the following pairs of words. Which one word remains?

Phrases
Answers
1. past history
2. join together
3. is currently
4. within the confines of
5. during the course of
6. in order to
7. includes the following
8. other alternative
9. first began
10. future plans
11. actual facts

 


Quiz