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Less = More

Less = More

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Less = More

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  1. Less = More Or, how to eliminate wordiness

  2. Long sentences are not necessarily wordy, nor are short sentences always concise Be truly concise

  3. Rules for Writers, 8th ed. Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers See Section 16

  4. Here’s how • Eliminate redundancies • Avoid unnecessary repetition of words • Cut empty or inflated phrases • Simplify the structure • Reduce clauses to phrase, phrases to single words

  5. Eliminate redundancies • Cooperate together • Yellow in color • Basic essentials

  6. What can be cut? • Daniel is now employed at a private rehabilitation center working as a registered physical therapist. • Silvia very hurriedly scribbled her name, address, and phone number on a greasy napkin.

  7. Better • Daniel is now employed[works] at a private rehabilitation center working as a registered physical therapist. • Silvia very hurriedly scribbled her name, address, and phone number on a greasy napkin.

  8. Avoid unnecessary repetition of words • Though words may be repeated deliberately for effect, repetitions will seem awkward if they are clearly unnecessary. • When concision is possible, use it.

  9. What can be cut? • Our fifth patient, in room six, is a mentally ill patient. • The best teachers help each student become a better student both academically and emotionally.

  10. Better • Our fifth patient, in room six, is a mentally ill patient. • The best teachers help each student become a better student[grow] both academically and emotionally.

  11. Inflated Have the ability to As a matter of fact At all times At the present time Because of the fact that In the event that In order to Concise Can, be able to In fact Always Currently, now Because If to Cut empty or inflated phrases

  12. Cut • In my opinion • I think that • It seems that • One must admit that

  13. What can be cut? • In my opinion, our current immigration policy is misguided. • At this point in time, my skills and experience are a perfect match for the position of supervisory lab technician. • Long sentences, which can be defined as those of more than, say, twenty words, often are hard to read.

  14. Better • In my opinion, our current immigration policy is misguided. • At this point in time, my skills and experience are a perfect match for the position of supervisory lab technician. • Long sentences, which can be defined as those of more than, say, twenty words, often are hard to read.

  15. Better • Our current immigration policy is misguided. • My skills and experience are a perfect match for the position of supervisory lab technician. • Long sentences -- those of more than twenty words -- often are hard to read.

  16. Simplify the structure • Simplify the structure of the sentence if it’s too indirect. • Strengthen the verb • Avoid the verb to be, including there is/are • Prefer the active voice

  17. How can these be improved? • Victor made a recommendation to the board to look for alternatives • It is imperative that all night managers follow strict procedures when locking the safe. • Investigators were involved in studying the effect of classical music on babies.

  18. Better • Victor made a recommendation[recommended] that the board look for alternatives. • It is imperative that All night managers [must] follow strict procedures when locking the safe. • Investigators were involved in studying[studied] the effect of classical music on babies.

  19. Reduce clauses to phrases, phrases to single words • We took a side trip to Monticello, which was the home of Thomas Jefferson. • The Wilsons moved into the house in spite of the factthat [even though] the front door was only ten yards from the train tracks.

  20. What can be cut? • Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who set a high standard for future leaders to meet. • Your task will be the delivery of correspondence to all employees in the agency.

  21. Better • Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who set a high standard for future leaders to meet. • Yourtask will be the deliveryof correspondence [mail]to all employees in the agency. • You will deliver mail to all employees.

  22. Let’s put it all together Edit the memo to reduce wordiness

  23. Memo or email to district managers It has recently been brought to my attention that a percentage of our sales representatives have been failing to log reports of their client calls in our customer database each and every day. I have also learned that some representatives are not checking the database on a regular basis.

  24. Our clients sometimes receive a multiple number of sales calls from us when a sales representative is not cognizant of the fact that the client has been contacted at a previous time. Repeated phone calls from our representatives annoy our customers. These repeated telephone calls also portray our company as one that is lacking in organization.

  25. Effective as of immediately, direct your representatives to do the following: • Record each and every customer contact in the customer database at the end of each day, without fail. • Check the database at the very beginning of each day to ensure that telephone communications will not be initiated with clients who have already been called. Let me extend my appreciation to you for cooperating in this important matter.

  26. A revision Some of our sales representatives have been failing to log reports of their client calls in our customer database. Moreover, some representatives are not routinely checking the database. Our clients sometimes receive repeated calls from us when a sales representative does not realize that the client has already been contacted. Repeated phone calls annoy our customers and make us appear disorganized.

  27. Effective immediately, direct your representatives to do the following: • Record each customer contact in the customer database at the end of each day. • Check the database at the beginning of each day to guard against repeated calls. Thank you for cooperating in this important matter.

  28. 4 pages to 1 sentence • Maxwell Perkins once edited Thomas Wolfe’s manuscript by cutting ruthlessly. First he cut the big limbs, and then he shook out the dead leaves. At one point, he reduced a 4-page passage about Wolfe’s uncle to six words: • “Henry, the oldest, was now thirty.”

  29. Less = More