How To Write: Don’t Be Wordy

Too Many Words Can Spoil The Effect
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Avoid unnecessary words and phrases. To give you a sense of the basic idea, here’s a short list of wordy phrases that are often used in letters and email–first the wordy, and then the concise:

very necessary           necessary

in spite of the fact that            in spite of

at this point in time           at this time

consensus of opinion           consensus

meet together                meet

the month of August           August

on a weekly basis           weekly

in the vast majority of cases           in most cases

few in number           few

during the course of           during

until such time           until

prior to           before

You get the point. Carefully scrutinize what you say in order to spot–and eliminate–useless verbiage.

One final point. “Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly,” author L. Sue Baugh advises in her Handbook for Practical Letter Writing. “A well-placed adverb or adjective can add interest and color to your letters. Too many modifiers, however, weaken your meaning and give your message an insincere, exaggerated tone.”


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