In the workplace, clear and to-the-point writing is prized—and this is becoming increasingly true as we spend more and more time reading emails and web content. Complex, wordy descriptions can be confusing, dull, or, worse, misleading. More value lies in straightforward, succinct writing.
One common presumption I find among professionals is the idea that brevity is the goal. Keeping a piece of writing under so many words means that it’s concise, right? Well … that’s not always true. For example, a brief set of instructions with limited explanation may be just as confusing (and therefore unsuccessful) as rambling, verbose instructions.
Clean, concise writing isn’t always short in length; it may contain a tremendous amount of detail. But, no matter the length, it presents the information clearly without any unnecessary words and unrelated information or ideas. This is the key—and the challenge.
Tips for Concise Writing
Tips to Help You Write More Concisely
- Audience: Who do you want to reach? What are they seeking from this information? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes when selecting and organizing the information, as well as how you’ll write about it.
- Purpose: What exactly do you want your reader to take away from the content you’re crafting? What do you want them to do, think, or say after reading your writing? Each sentence help achieve these goals.
- Format: Will this writing be published on the web? In print? Is it a website, article, presentation, etc.? Craft writing to succeed for the specific format.
A detailed understanding of your goals will help you to focus on only what’s needed—and nothing more.
- In fact/ In actual fact: Omit entirely
- At the time that/ At the time when: Use “when”
- Inasmuch as: Use “because” or “since”
- In the process of: Omit entirely
- Due to: Use “because”
- Whether or not: Use “whether” only