Writing Concise, Precise Sentences

             

Brevity is the soul of wit, and clear, concise communication gets you much further than wit alone. Writing concise sentences doesn't mean cutting words recklessly, but rather choosing the best words to convey your ideas.

As an example, conciseness is the difference between these sentences:

  • The document Smith wrote detailing the problems his product addressed and the solutions it offered was read and referenced by quite a lot by people who were very knowledgeable in the industry.
  • Smith's whitepaper was well-received by industry experts.
To keep detritus out of your writing, pay attention to these three principles
  1. Be specific and direct. If one word can replace a longer descriptive phrase, use the one word. For example, replace "Pat made an argument that convinced a lot of people and referenced a lot of research" with "Pat made a well-researched, compelling argument."
  2. Cut unnecessary words. Words that don't contribute to the meaning of a sentence don't provide value to the reader. Phrases like "it is a commonly accepted fact that" impart little meaning, for example; stating the fact is enough to establish it as a fact. And avoid trying to be clever by being wordy: in Joseph Devlin's 1910 book "How to Speak and Write Correctly," he ridicules those who refer to an object as "a spatulous device for abrading the surface of the soil" rather than calling a spade a spade.
  3. Combine related sentences. This might seem at odds with the goal of writing concise sentences, but if a sentence simply adds detail to the previous sentence, they might be better off as a single unit. For example, take these two sentences: "Jordan worked on an extremely successful advertising campaign. The campaign promoted the new Generic Co. online service." This could easily be condensed to "Jordan worked on an extremely successful advertising campaign promoting the new Generic Co. online service."


Writing precise and concise sentences is one aspect of writing well. Contact Hurley Write, Inc to learn more strategies for improving your writing.

Image via Shutterstock.com

 
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