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This Guide was created as a joint project of the Academic Resource Center and the William H. Hannon Library.

Directed Learning: Conciseness

In my personal opinion, it is necessary that we should not ignore the opportunity to think over each and every suggestion offered.

Does your writing look like this? Is your first draft filled with unnecessary words? Are you trying too hard to sound academic and scholarly? If yes, you may be forcing your reader to plow through convoluted sentences such as the above. Deleting unnecessary words and replacing wordy phrases with more powerful words make your writing clearer and more engaging. Your reader should appreciate the revised sentence below:
   We should consider each suggestion.

Delete meaningless /fluff words
   kind of, great, really, basically, very, extremely, probably, various, generally, actually, quite, mostly, particular, etc.

   The basic reason for the strike was essentially a disagreement between management and staff.

Delete redundant words
   unexpected surprise, terrible disaster, free gift, completely finished, past memories, definite decision, close scrutiny, full and complete, any and all, hopes and desires, first and foremost, each and every, unnecessary and useless

   The sad tragedy was painful to read.

Delete unnecessary sentence starters (They often start with It is, There is, There are, etc.)
   It is important to note that . . . 
   There are some circumstances that . . . 
   It is necessary . . . 
   There is a need . . .

   It is obvious that the jury was misled by the defense attorney.
   It was the president who started the turmoil.

Replace wordy phrases with more concise choices
   regardless of the fact that --> although
   due to the fact that --> because
   for the reason that --> because
   under circumstances in which --> when
   concerning the matter of --> about/regarding
   at all times --> always

 Wordy: Despite the fact that Lisa turned in all her assignments, she failed the class.
 Concise: Even though Lisa turned in all her assignments, she failed the class.
 Wordy: In the situation in which a class is full, you may be added to the waiting list. 
 Concise: If a class is full, you may be added to the waiting list.

Change negatives to affirmatives
   not often --> rarely
   not notice --> overlook
   not uncommon --> common
   not honest --> dishonest
   did not remember --> forgot
   not stop --> continue

Williams, Joseph M. Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 2003. Print.

Directed Learning Activity: Conciseness

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