Wordiness and word choice

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One of the goals of our writing is that our readers understand BriteCore through our use of concise, informative language. In addition, we say our voice hinges on crisp simplicity. To these ends, it is important to avoid language/words that don’t add information and make your writing too wordy.

As with most elements of English, wordiness can be subjective. Ask yourself if the words and expressions you use add useful information to your sentences or needlessly lengthen them.

Examples of common expressions that can be written more concisely:

Instead of……use this.
Have the option/ability/means toCan
In order toTo
In order forFor
In order thatSo
In regard toAbout, concerning, on
In relation toAbout, to, with
Pertaining toAbout, of, on
In close proximityNear, close
Each and everyEvery
End resultResult
Exactly the sameThe same
In spite of the fact thatAlthough
In the event that/ofIf
In view ofBecause, since
Refer backRefer
Repeat againRepeat
Revert backRevert
A number ofSome, many
As a means ofTo
At the present timeNow
For a period ofFor
Has a requirement forNeeds, requires
In a timely mannerOn time, promptly
Set forth inIn
The use of(omit without replacement)
Take action to(omit without replacement)
Time periodPeriod, time
With reference toAbout
With the exception ofExcept
In accordance withBy, following, per, under
Is authorized toCan, may
Is applicable toApplies to
It is requested that youPlease
Until such time asUntil
Pertaining toAbout
Will have the [option/ability/means/etc.] toCan

 

You should omit or rarely use the following words. Many of these are adverbs, which are often unnecessary or add no additional useful information.

  • Absolutely
  • Actually
  • Basically
  • Certainly
  • Completely
  • Definitely
  • Just
  • Literally
  • Much
  • Probably
  • Quite
  • Rather
  • Really
  • Somehow
  • Somewhat
  • That (see usage dictionary)
  • Totally
  • Very
  • Virtually

Write concisely

The following guidance will help you think about your choice of words and their meanings:

Avoid redundant categories.

  1. Specific words imply categorization.
    1. Winter is a season; you don’t need to say winter season—winter implies season.
    2. It is red instead of it is red in color—red implies color.
    3. Early instead of at an early time—early implies time.
    4. Round instead of round in shape—round implies shape.
    5. Software instead of software technology—software implies technology.

Avoid redundant pairs

  1. Many word pairs have similar meanings and one of the two words can stand alone without the other and without changing their meaning. If one word words instead of two or more, then just use one word.
    1. Beliefs instead of personal beliefs—is there a belief you have that isn’t personal?
    2. Fact instead of true fact—is there a fact that isn’t true?
    3. Gift instead of free gift—is there a gift that isn’t free?
    4. Bonus instead of added bonus—a bonus is always something that is added.
    5. Surprise instead of unexpected surprise—all surprises are unexpected.

Omit needless words

Instead of……use this.
In order toTo
In order forFor
In order thatSo
In regard toAbout, concerning, on
In relation toAbout, to, with
Pertaining toAbout, of, on
In close proximityNear, close
Each and everyEvery
End resultResult
Exactly the sameThe same
In spite of the fact thatAlthough
In the event that/ofIf
In view ofBecause, since
Refer backRefer
Repeat againRepeat
Revert backRevert
A number ofSome, many
As a means ofTo
At the present timeNow
For a period ofFor
Has a requirement forNeeds, requires
In a timely mannerOn time, promptly
Set forth inIn
The use of(omit without replacement)
Take action to(omit without replacement)
Time periodPeriod, time
With reference toAbout
With the exception ofExcept
In accordance withBy, following, per, under
Is authorized toCan, may
Is applicable toApplies to
It is requested that youPlease
Until such time asUntil
Pertaining toAbout
Will have the [option/ability/means/etc.] toCan
For the reason thatBecause
Owing to the fact thatBecause
Despite the fact thatAlthough
Of the opinion thatThink that
A total ofN/A
Of the belief thatBelieve that
Make a connection withConnect with
Have the capability/ability toCan
Take into considerationConsider
In terms ofBy

Example

Wordy: Lisa told other people that she was of the opinion that 100 winners would receive exclusive items despite the fact that the company had reduced its campaign budget.

Concise: Lisa said 100 winners would receive exclusive items despite the company’s reduced campaign budget.

Don’t use unnecessary intensifiers

Intensifiers are adverbs or adverbial phrases that bolster the meaning of other expressions and show emphasis. Words that we commonly use as intensifiers include absolutely, completely, extremely, highly, rather, really, so, too, totally, utterly, very and at all. These generally have no place in technical or business writing. Instead of using an intensifier, give specific details. This may use more words, but you’re giving more usable information, unlike with an intensifier.

Example

Less meaning: BriteCore makes it really easy to manage your contacts.

More meaning: BriteCore makes managing your contacts easier through its intuitive lookup and editing features.

While not an exhaustive list, you should omit or rarely use the following words:

  • Absolutely
  • Actually
  • Basically
  • Certainly
  • Completely
  • Definitely
  • Just
  • Literally
  • Much
  • Probably
  • Quite
  • Rather
  • Really
  • Somehow
  • Somewhat
  • Totally
  • Very
  • Virtually

Exclude filler words like it, there, or want

Examples

  • No place is like home (5 words) instead of There is no place like home (6 words).
  • Listening to social media conversations is important (7 words) instead of It is important to listen to social media conversations (9 words)

Be mindful of nominalization

Nominalization is the use of of a word that isn’t a noun as a noun; that is, verbs or adjectives turned into nouns. They often end in -tion, -ment, -sion, -ance, or -al. For example, interference is a nominalization of interfere, decision is a nominalization of decide, and argument is a nominalization of argue.

Examples

Instead of……write:
We want to ensure the development and improvement of our staff.We want to ensure we develop and improve our staff.
Heating water to the boiling point causes evaporation.Heating water to the boiling point causes it to evaporate.
Optimization of our workforce is a key goal of our company.Our company wants to optimize our workforce.
Files his applicationApplies
Reach an agreementAgree
Enter into a collaborationCollaborate
Conduct an investigationInvestigate

Verbs are stronger, more powerful word choices.

Examples

Modern society is in need of a recalibration of its moral values.

Revision: Modern society needs to recalibrate its moral values.

Attempts by economists at defining full employment have been met with failure.

Revision: Economists’ attempts at defining full employment have failed.

Additional considerations and information

  • Disregard words that explain the obvious or provide excessive details.
  • Don’t overuse relative structures.
  • Use active voice most of the time.
  • Use simple past and present tense Instead of present/past perfect and present/past continuous.
    • This is a similar issue. From essays to business documents to novels, it’s much more succinct to use simple present/past tense over any other tense, especially present/past perfect and present/past continuous. Why? Because doing so cuts down on unnecessary words, and, most of the time, you don’t need any of those other tenses because they’re clear through context. For example, change I have worked there to I worked there. Change He was surfing to He surfed. Nothing is different, right? There are exceptions, of course, but keep an eye on this issue, and you will find lots of instances where you don’t need those extra modifiers.

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