Five Rules for Being Concise

 

Five Rules for Being Concise

1. Delete words that mean little or nothing.
• kind of
• actually
• particularly
• really
• certainly
• variously
• very
• virtually
• basically
• generally
Example: Original Version:
Productivity actually depends on certain factors that basically involve psychology more than
any particular technology.
Revised Version:
Productivity depends on psychology more than on technology
2. Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words.
• full and complete
• hope and trust
• any and all
• true and accurate
• each and every
• basic and fundamental
3. Delete words whose meaning a reader can infer.
• Redundant Modifiers
• Often, the meaning of a word implies its modifier:
• Example: Do not try to anticipate in advance those events that will completely
revolutionize society because past history shows that it is the eventual outcome
of minor events that unexpectedly surprise us more.
• Revised: Do not try to anticipate revolutionary events because history shows
that the outcome of minor events surprises us more.
• Redundant Categories
• Every word implies its general category.
• Example: During that period of time, the membrane area became pink in color
and shiny in appearance.
Revised: During that period, the membrane became pink and shiny.
Other examples: large in size, round in shape, honest in character, unusual in
nature, of a strange type, area of mathematics, of a bright color, at an earlier time,
in a confused state
4. Replace a phrase with a word whenever possible.
• the reason for
• due to the fact that
• owing to the fact that
• in light of the fact that
• on the grounds that
• this is why
o Could all be replaced with either because, since, or why
5. Change negatives to affirmatives.

 
• not different
not the same
not allow
not notice
not remember
not many
not often
not admit
not include
not consider

similar
different
prevent
overlook
forget
few
rarely
deny
omit
ignore
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