How To Write: Don’t Be Wordy

When Less Is More: Write With Fewer Words
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Avoid unnecessary words and phrases. To give you a sense of the basic idea, here’s a short list of wordy phrases that are often used in letters and email–first the wordy, and then the concise:

very necessary                    necessary

in spite of the fact that           in spite of

at this point in time                at this time

consensus of opinion           consensus

meet together                          meet

the month of August           August

on a weekly basis           weekly

in the vast majority of cases           in most cases

few in number                      few

during the course of           during

until such time                      until

prior to                                    before

You get the point. Carefully scrutinize what you say in order to spot–and eliminate–useless verbiage.

One final point. “Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly,” author L. Sue Baugh advises in her Handbook for Practical Letter Writing. “A well-placed adverb or adjective can add interest and color to your letters. Too many modifiers, however, weaken your meaning and give your message an insincere, exaggerated tone.”


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Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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