Dear Master’s Programs student,
Today’s entry concludes our series on cleaning up the clutter from our writing. (If you missed the last two tips, take a look at the blog entry for conceptual tips for eliminating wordiness and practical tips for eliminating wordiness.)
Below you’ll find four specific tips to reduce unnecessary words.
- Eliminate the phrases “there are,” “there is,” and “it is” from the beginnings of your sentences.
Wordy: There is a delicious watermelon that Barkley really wanted to eat.
Better: Barkley really wants to eat the delicious watermelon.
Wordy: It is imperative that student services professionals take their advisees’ socioeconomic status into consideration.
Better: Student services professionals must consider their advisees’ socioeconomic status.
- Replace “-tion” and “-sion” words with verbs.
Wordy: Tywin held an intervention to prevent his family’s dissolution.
Better: Tywin intervened to prevent his family’s dissolution.
Wordy: King Joffrey acted in violation of his promise not to execute Ned Stark.
Better: King Joffrey violated his promise not to execute Ned Stark.
- Remove or replace unneeded prepositional phrases.
Wordy: The major objective of this paper is to explore the perceived influence of peer counseling on academic and on non-academic aspects of undergraduate life over the period in which respondents to the survey
Better: This paper explores peer counseling’s influence on academic and non-academic aspects of undergraduate life.
Wordy: We couldn’t come up with the right answer on our own, so we tried to make up something that seemed reasonable. Eventually we called off the effort altogether.
Better: We couldn’t determine the right answer on our own, so we tried to inventsomething reasonable. Eventually we cancelled the effort altogether.
- Replace passive verbs with active verbs.
Wordy: Lady Sybil’s life was taken by eclampsia.
Better: Eclampsia took Lady Sybil’s life.
Wordy: The very notion was found to be horrifying to the dowager countess.
Better: The dowager countess found very notion horrifying.
Also better: The very notion horrified the dowager countess.
Happy (unwordy) writing!