Embracing Brevity



In this week’s readings I resonated with the concept of practicing concise writing.   Often in the professional workplace, the more to the point we are, the better. In a fast-past moving work, the idea of saving time, space, and more often than not—money, is ideal. So in the sprit of brevity, I will make this blog post terse.

1. Writing as though you are an SAT vocabulary prep book does more harm than good

Instead of ‘expeditious’ use ‘fast’; don’t use ‘cognizant,’ instead, use ‘aware’. With people having low literacy levels, the simpler the word the better.

2. Cut the fluff

Words like ‘very,’ ‘extremely,’ ‘really,’ or any word used to emphasize the following word is not needed. Chances are you a. don’t need it the word to emphasize it, or b. the word you’re trying to emphasize isn’t the best word you could use. Every character in your writing counts. Cutting fluff saves the reader time and makes your writing more clear.

Concisely crafted writing takes a certain level of dedication, time, and practice. In almost every piece you write, there are words that can be changed, cut, and moved around. In addition the suggestions from the article here are a few more I have learned during my time as professional writing student.

3. Buzzwords are key

In the professional world it is rare that people will have the time to read every word you write. Using well-known ‘buzzwords’ make it easier for people to scan the writing and still pick up on the overall message.

4. Know your audience

Depending on who you’re writing to can alter your tone and formality. Often, people enjoy reading an inviting and engaging voice—but beware of the differences in writing for a more professional audience. Bonus: stay away from colloquial language—when using local jargon, a non-local audience member can feel taken out of the writing if they don’t know the local slang.

5. Red Pens> Editing on screen

Even though we live in a digital savvy world, there are parts of us that are still old school. When editing, do yourself a favor and print out a copy. Using a red pen, start reading your work backwards from the last sentence to the first. Taking yourself out of the natural flow the words will help catch easily missed mistakes.


Image Source: http://howtobemoreconcise.blogspot.com



4 thoughts on “Embracing Brevity

  1. This post touches on something without directly saying it: listicles. I always wondered what is it about listicles that are so popular, but through you post, your listicle, I figured it out. They follow the rules that you use. When I started reading this, I kept thinking about how difficult Twitter is for me because I love words. I love stringing words together so much that often people get lost. But then I started thinking about why I was drawn more to this blog post than the others on this page. It’s because it’s a listicle — it’s concise, using simple wording, without fluff, and uses buzzwords. They are not developed through narratives like many news articles that one can find through the New York Times or other traditionally written news media. We do not have to cut through the fluff, the advanced grammar, or the enhanced sentence structure to get to the key points of the story. There is no analyzing because we are being told exactly what we need to know.


  2. This reading also resonated with me because brief writing is something we focus on so heavily at my internship. I took a webinar called “Writing for the Web” with a coworker, and was amazed by how much time was spent emphasizing concise writing. The lecturer stressed multiple times that any sentence that serves no direct purpose must be cut, because Internet readers will not put up with fluff. Instead, when we’re reading online, we tend to skim articles for relevant content. It is interesting though to think about how much time we’ve spend over our academic careers learning to lengthen papers, only to reach graduation and learn the complete opposite. Future classes in both high school and college may shift focus to teach both writing styles, in order to accommodate for the increasing prominence of the Internet. Maybe in ten years, the term paper will be no more.


  3. This was an interesting post—especially the last point made. I’ve never thought to read my work in reverse, but that definitely seems like an interesting tactic! I’ve definitely always had issues with brevity. And this was absolutely a learned issue. School! School always wants us to have a certain length, even this class. It absolutely causes me to add so much fluff, repetition, and unnecessary content. While it’s frustrating, I suppose lengthiness can also be a way of writing everyone needs to know. But, practicing brevity is something I need to do (even looking at this post)!


  4. This was a very interesting post and its an idea that I constantly try to work at every day with my work. I feel like when we are younger we are taught how to write concisely, because we are just starting to learn how to write. Then as we get older into high school and part of college, we are taught to write more academically with longer sentences and thoughts. And as we go to the professional world, we are told to go back to writing shorter, simpler, and more concisely. I just find it interesting that we have this cycle of writing styles and return to a simpler style. The transition from academic writing back to concise writing can be a bit challenging just because it seems we have been writing academically for so long now.


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