Most business documents such as emails, memos and reports contain excess words. Fortunately, you can edit out much of the bloat in your text by simply following the three steps described below.
1. Omit meaningless modifiers.
We often bulk up our prose with adjectives and adverbs that don't add new meaning or interest. Examples:
close scrutiny (scrutiny, by definition, is close)
advance warning (you can't warn someone about the past)
end result (results are always at the end)
past history (as opposed to future history?)
could potentially ("potentially" implies that something could happen)
unexpected surprise (if it was expected, it wouldn't be a surprise)
This is an easy edit, because such modifiers don't modify. Banish them.
2. Delete redundant word pairs.
We've become so used to seeing certain words in pairs, we never stop to ask whether we really need both words. Here are some frequent offenders:
first and foremost
full and complete
each and every
any and all
if and only if
intents and purposes
Of the two words, the second is usually redundant. It may give the impression of adding emphasis, but it only adds hot air. You can almost always safely delete it, along with the "and."
At times, however, the second word may suit your purposes better than the first. I'll leave that to your judgment.
3. Erase the phrase "the ________ of."
This phrase litters business documents. In its most common form, it looks like one of these:
the state of
the field of
the age of
the act of
This edit has the biggest payoff: the entire phrase gets cut. For example, instead of "the state of Florida," just say "Florida." Everyone will know you mean the state. Similarly, "the field of geology" can be replaced by "geology."
There may be instances where you need the phrase for clarity, but most of the time, you'll do better without it.
The phrase also takes the following form:
the running of
the printing of
the construction of
Here, you can't delete the entire phrase, but you can get rid of "the" and "of." Doing so would result in:
The above edits will go a long way toward making your work crisper and increasing its impact.
Arun Sinha is president of Access Communications, a digital marketing, content creation and web development company in Stamford, Connecticut, USA. Visit http://www.accessc.com for more information on copy writing, websites, and Internet marketing.
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