Economical Writing: Practical Suggestions

Suggestion #1: Write simple, direct sentences whenever possible.

  • FIRST DRAFT: The view of the mountains, while I was looking on, was pretty, nice, and interesting.
  • REVISED: The mountain view was gorgeous.

Suggestion #2: Avoid false literary style.  Don’t be too "artsy" or overly clever.

  • FIRST DRAFT: My sanguine instructor disesteemed my election of grandiloquent words.
  • REVISED: My optimistic instructor viewed of my use of pretentious words unfavorably.

Suggestion #3: Cut out long-winded introductions that serve no purpose.

  • FIRST DRAFT: It has been said that, in these times of turmoil and trouble, one's moral compass must always be active and alert.
  • REVISED: One's moral compass must always be active during troubled times.

Suggestion #4: Remove all redundancies.

  • FIRST DRAFT: He believes in and is convinced of the superiority of anything American-made, of anything originating in his own country of origin.
  • REVISED: He is convinced of the superiority of anything American-made.

Suggestion #5: Whenever possible, get rid of anticipatory constructions like "it is," "there are," "there is," etc.

  • FIRST DRAFT: It is true that there are numerous students who often don’t realize the value of a four-year degree.
  • REVISED: Many students don’t realize the value of a four-year degree.

Suggestion #6: If possible, remove “This” from the beginning of a sentence by combining sentences.

  • FIRST DRAFT: I was in an automobile accident when I was very young. This has resulted in my being an especially cautious driver.
  • REVISED: I am an especially cautious driver because I was in an auto accident what I was young.

Suggestion #7: Avoid passive voice.  Whenever possible, replace passive verbs with active ones.

  • FIRST DRAFT (passive): The boxes will be taken by those students later this afternoon.
  • REVISED (active): Students will take the boxes later this afternoon.

Suggestion #8: Watch for, and consider revising, words that end in "tion" or "sion."

  • FIRST DRAFT: He succeeded in the apprehension of the suspect.
  • REVISED: He apprehended the subject.

Suggestion #9: Consider joining sentences, or using semi-colons or colons, when you hear redundant phrases.

  • FIRST DRAFT: We were discussing some general concerns. These concerns included crime, gun control, and legal processes.
  • REVISED: We were discussing several general concerns: crime, gun control, and legal processes.
  • ANOTHER OPTION: Crime, gun control, and legal processes were three general concerns we discussed.

Suggestion #10: Reword infinitive phrases ("to" + verb)

  • FIRST DRAFT: The manager continued to be irritated by the tardiness of his employees.
  • REVISED: The employees' tardiness continually irritated the manager.