Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Netiquette IQ Blog Of 7/25/2017 - Tips to Cut the Clutter in Writing





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Tips to Cut the Clutter in Writing
by Richard Nordquist from thoughtco.com

Updated April 03, 2017 

"Clutter is the disease of American writing," says William Zinsser in his classic text On Writing Well. "We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills, and meaningless jargon."
We can cure the disease of clutter (at least in our own compositions) by following a simple rule: don't waste words. When revising and editing, we should aim to cut out any language that is vague, repetitious, or pretentious.
In other words, clear out the deadwood, be concise, and get to the point!
Reduce Long Clauses
When editing, try to reduce long clauses to shorter phrases:
Wordy: The clown who was in the center ring was riding a tricycle.
Revised: The clown in the center ring was riding a tricycle.
More About Clauses:
Reduce Phrases
Likewise, try to reduce phrases to single words:
Wordy: The clown at the end of the line tried to sweep up the spotlight.
Revised: The last clown tried to sweep up the spotlight.
More About Phrases:
Avoid Empty Openers
Avoid There is, There are, and There were as sentence openers when There adds nothing to the meaning of a sentence:
Wordy: There is a prize in every box of Quacko cereal.
Revised: A prize is in every box of Quacko cereal.
Wordy: There are two security guards at the gate.
Revised: Two security guards stand at the gate.
More About Empty Openers:
Don't Overwork Modifiers
Do not overwork very, really, totally, and other modifiers that add little or nothing to the meaning of a sentence.
Wordy: By the time she got home, Merdine was very tired.
Revised: By the time she got home, Merdine was exhausted
Wordy: She was also really hungry.
Revised: She was also hungry [or famished].
More About Modifiers:
Avoid Redundancies
Replace redundant expressions (phrases that use more words than necessary to make a point) with precise words. Check out this list of common redundancies, and remember: needless words are those that add nothing (or nothing significant) to the meaning of our writing. They bore the reader and distract from our ideas. So cut them out!
Wordy: At this point in time, we should edit our work.
Revised: Now we should edit our work.

Updated March 09, 2017
"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil," Truman Capote once said. In other words, what we cut out of our writing is sometimes more important than what we put in. So let's continue to cut the clutter.
How do we stop wasting words and get to the point? Here are five more strategies to apply when revising and editing essays, memos, and reports.
1) Use Active Verbs
Whenever possible, make the subject of a sentence do something.
Wordy: The grant proposals were reviewed by the students.
Revised: The students reviewed the grant proposals.
2) Don't Try to Show Off
As Leonardo da Vinci observed, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Don't presume that big words or lengthy phrases will impress your readers: often the simplest word is the best.
Wordy: At this moment in time, students who are matriculating through high school should be empowered to participate in the voting process.
Revised: High school students should have the right to vote.

3) Cut Empty Phrases
Some of the most common phrases mean little, if anything, and should be cut from our writing:
  • all things being equal
  • all things considered
  • as a matter of fact
  • as far as I am concerned
  • at the end of the day
  • at the present time
  • due to the fact that
  • for all intents and purposes
  • for the most part
  • for the purpose of
  • in a manner of speaking
  • in my opinion
  • in the event of
  • in the final analysis
  • it seems that
  • the point that I am trying to make
  • type of
  • what I am trying to say
  • what I want to make clear
Wordy: All things being equal, what I am trying to say is that in my opinion all students should, in the final analysis, have the right to vote for all intents and purposes.
Revised: Students should have the right to vote.

4) Avoid Using Noun Forms of Verbs
The fancy name for this process is "excessive nominalization." Our advice is simple: give verbs a chance.
Wordy: The presentation of the arguments by the students was convincing.
Revised: The students presented their arguments convincingly. Or . . .
The students argued convincingly.

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