The first time I wrote a coursework for my English Literature course, it came back with the following comments. ‘Good arguments however hard to figure out in the rambling forest of words’. One of my MBA professors at Cardiff always insisted, I read your answers to the questions not without a dictionary. That’s right the aim of good academic writing is to use the most effective words to portray your view point. Very often while writing we end up using words which are unnecessary and hence better to be deleted.

So here are some ways in which you can improve your academic writing and make it more concise.

Use specific and strong words instead of numerous vague ones

Many a times while writing we end up using numerous words which are small and at best vague to convey our thoughts. This can end up making your writing ineffective as the reader will lose interest or your message will get lost in the ‘milieu of words’. Hence the more precise words you use the more effective your writing will be. You have to remember that due to the range of adjectives, nouns etc. Available, most items will have synonym that can relate your views clearly. Hence make use of a thesaurus as it can help you to find the precise word to convey the message. You can see some examples:

Veronica had this thought in her mind but was not very sure that Richard liked her. (16 words)

Veronica assumed Richard liked her (5 words)

Our brochure will provide you a number of things that will enable you to make a decision as to which product is best suited for your requirements (27 words)

Our brochure gives you information to choose a product as per your requirement. (13 words)

Cross examine each word in your document

Always read your document once as it’s complete and necessary to ensure that there are no dead weight words floating around. One of the common methods I employ is to leave my document for a couple of hours and then read it. This allows you to refresh your mind and makes your editing more clear and concise. Look for sentences that go on forever as those are the biggest culprits and need to be trimmed immediately. Each word in a sentence has to deliver something important and unique, if it does not, delete it.

Short is not always sweet!

Many a times we end up writing several short sentences which employ a lot of words which are unnecessary. So look for information that does not need a full sentence construct, and insert it into another sentence. This allows you to reduce the wordiness and keeps the value of your information intact. Some examples are as below:

Shakespeare’s plays are an amazing marriage of love and great writing. When he died, he had written over 34 plays. (20 words)

Shakespeare’s 37 plays are an amazing marriage of love and great writing. (12 words)

Always remember, if you can streamline your verbiage your end message can become stronger and more efficient. Hence if you eliminate some of the surplus expressions from your writing it can deliver a message to your reader which is worth reading.

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