3 quick tips for tighter writing


Writers can employ various strategies to make their writing
more active and concise.

Here are three simple types of unnecessary wording to keep in mind (and out
of one’s writing).

1. Extinguish expletives.
An expletive is an indirect phrase that only delays a reader’s acquaintance
with the writer’s point. Expletives include “There is,” “there are,” “there
was,” and “there were,” as well as any of these phrases with it
substituting for there. It is not necessary to always delete
expletives, as the current sentence demonstrates, but they should be
employed judiciously.

In most cases, simply sweep the expletive away and
begin with a subject, as in revision of “There are other steps a company
can take before an economic downturn to protect against its impact” to “A
company can take other steps before an economic downturn to protect against
its impact.”

[FREE GUIDE: 10 Punctuation Essentials]

2. Adjust adjectives to adverbs.
Business-speak, when rendered as text, is often stilted and verbose. One
class of wordy wording often found in business writing is represented by
such adjective-noun phrases as “on a daily basis,” which is easily replaced
by the adverbial form of the adjective (which in this case is identical: daily).

Regarding similar usage, “This issue will be resolved on a
case-by-case basis” is easily converted to “This issue will be resolved
case by case.” (Again, the replacement is identical, though the hyphens are
now superfluous.) Sometimes, the writer must replace the adjective, as in
the case of timely, which is seldom used as an adverb and does not
stand as such on its own: To render “in a timely manner” more concise, for
example, simply substitute promptly.

3. Avoid adjectives.
Some adjectives and adverbs themselves are extraneous. Such qualifiers as currently and different almost never contribute to
comprehension.

For example, in “We are currently accepting applications,”
the verb are clearly represents that acceptance of application is
a current state, meaning that currently serves no useful purpose,
and “These shirts come in seven different colors” provides no more
information than “These shirts come in seven colors,” and different can therefore be omitted without negative consequences.

A version of this post first appeared on

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