Become a tighter writer

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do". -- Thomas Jefferson. If you want to be quoted as often as Thomas Jefferson, a good way to start is to tighten your writing.

Remove extra words:

  • Located in--why not just in? Rarely does "located" do more than take up space.
  • Large in size--usually "in size" is redundant.
  • Red in color--of course in color. What else: red in taste? red in shape?
  • Round in shape--ditto.
  • Period of time--one or the other, use either "period" or "time."
  • During the summer months--as opposed to the summer years? Just "during summer" or (better) "in summer" is plenty.
  • They were in the process of collecting/ deciding/" etc.--skip the process and get right to the action: "they were collecting…"
  • A total of 161 families and individuals-- simply state the number. Unless you say otherwise, readers will assume it's a total, "161 families and individuals"
  • Advance planning and plan ahead--by definition, a plan is for a future action, so it's impossible not to plan ahead or do advance planning, even if planning is only moments ahead of action. The author usually means to say plan well in advance or plan well ahead, to distinguish from last-minute planning. Often, just "plan" will do very well.
  • According to a survey conducted last year-- in a professional journal, it might be important to distinguish between when research was “conducted” and when it was “reported.” Not so in most publications for lay audiences. Drop "conducted."

Shorten sentences:

  • 12 to 15 mm in length--use long: "12 to 15 mm long."

Remove unnecessary words: 

  • As follows or the following--almost never needed.
  • Present--let it be absent most of the time because it adds nothing, as in “More water was present in the stream.
  • Existing--also rarely needed in phrases such as “The situation existing in the field…