Effectual writers tighten their writing by transforming inflated phrases into shorter, more concise terms. This way they convey the same information with fewer words. This article examines how to recognize inflated phrases and how to deflate them.
Although inflation is great for balloons, it isn’t good for sentences. Most of today’s readers prefer the work of efficient writers who don’t waste their reading time. That’s one reason tight writers are so valuable! They keep their readers happy by replacing wordy, antiquated phrases with concise terms.
These sentences contain inflated phrases that we often hear people say, but which should not invade our writing.
(1) Next month the interns will do a study on the declining bee population.
Better: Next month the interns will study the declining bee population.
(2) Before the election Thomas will provide a summary of the survey results.
Better: Before the election Thomas will summarize the survey results.
(3) The new clerk has a tendency to misfile client applications.
Better: The new clerk tends to misfile client applications.
(4) The new policy will serve to make reductions in paper waste.
Better: The new policy will reduce paper waste.
(5) In the event that Ms Potter cannot attend the meeting, mail her a copy of the plan.
Better: If Ms Potter cannot attend the meeting, mail her a copy of the plan.
(6) The numbers shown in the spreadsheet offer the proof we need.
Better: The numbers in the spreadsheet offer the proof we need.
(7) He refuses to attend practice in spite of the fact that it would be good for him.
Better: He refuses to attend practice although it would be good for him.
(8) She earned in the neighborhood of $100,000.
Better: She earned about $100,000.
(9) Hire someone who has the ability to create flowcharts.
Better: Hire someone who can create flowcharts.
(10) Because of the fact that he stays up late, he doesn’t get enough sleep.
Better: Because he stays up late, he doesn’t get enough sleep.
Replacements for Inflated Phrases
Make each word in a sentence carry its own weight.
Tight writing not only saves on printing costs, but increases the likelihood that your document will actually be read!
(c) February 2, 2012
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