Have you ever started reading something and quickly gotten distracted because of how long-winded it is? While being detailed with what you’re writing isn’t a bad thing per se, being too rambly can lead to people’s minds drifting away from what you’ve written, costing you their attention on what you have to say. Unlike long-winded writing, writing concisely means using the fewest words possible to convey an idea to your audience.
Why write concisely?
Even when grammatically correct, long sentences can overwhelm your readers, confuse them, or flat out bore them. How much should your readers have to hunt in order to figure out what you were trying to say in the first place? Is there a point in your long sentences that you’re trying to make? How easily will your readers miss the point because your sentences are wordy? In order to get your point across (and to make readers want to get your point in the first place), you’ll need to grab a hold on the reader’s attention. Once you have it, you’re going to want to keep the attention—that’s where concise writing comes in.
Whether you’re sending a text message, writing an email, updating your resume, or more, using concise language will get your point across to your intended audience quickly no matter if they’re skimming through what you wrote or reading it thoroughly. Concise writing is also more likely than not to make an impact on your readers.
How to write concisely
Concise writing sounds easy to do, but doing so isn’t natural for everyone. For some people, keeping things short, sweet, and to the point is simple, but for others, it takes a considerable amount of effort to accomplish. Here are a few ways you can start working toward brevity:
- Eliminate redundant words: Getting rid of words, like tautologies, can lead to stronger, more direct sentences. Tautologies are just words or phrases that repeat information you’ve already stated, which takes up unnecessary space and time. Ridding yourself of them will simplify your sentence and get your reader to the point quicker.
- Remove vague nouns: Every word you use should have a point—especially nouns. Do the nouns you use help drive your point forward? If not, consider removing them to make your sentence clearer.
- Write active sentences: Though the passive voice isn’t technically wrong, using it often leads to wordy sentences. Using the active voice makes for a stronger, more direct tone in your writing, so to write concisely, keep most of your sentences active rather than passive.