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Transcript of Concision
Concision Adapted from the Carnegie Mellon Writing Tutorhttp://telstar.ote.cmu.edu/writingtutor/concision.htmlWhat? Longer isnt better?Readers may be less likely to read longer textsThink of how often you count the pages of assigned readingsWordy writing can be confusing
ConcisionSay only what you need to sayDoesnt necessarily equal short sentencesStep 1. Delete Unnecessary WordsWords that arent needed can hide your intended message and purposemake you sound arrogantturn your readers off Empty Words Redundant WordsInflated ExpressionsEmpty WordsWords that add little or nothing to the writingClutter sentences
Example:Twain is basically arguing that human morality is actually corrupt.Vs.Twain is arguing that human morality is corrupt.
ReallyKind ofActuallyCertainVirtuallyPracticallyParticularlyBasicallyRedundant WordsWords that have the same meaning used as a group
ExamplesThere are three separate flaws that lead to humanitys corruption: greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy.
Vs. There are three flaws that lead to humanitys corruption: greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy. Mathematical Equation Rough in textureBinding restrictionsSmall in sizePersonal feelingInflated ExpressionsUsing a lot of words to communicate something that could be said more simply
Concerning the matter of, regarding the issue of, in reference toaboutThe reason for, in light of, due to the fact thatbecause, since, whyIt is crucial that, it is necessarymust, shouldIn the event that, if the situation arises, on the occasionifIs in the position to, has the ability to, is able to, has the capacity tocanPrior to, subsequent to, simultaneously asbefore, during, whileDespite the fact that, notwithstanding the fact that, regardless ofalthough, even, thoughThere is a possibility that, it is probable that, there is a chance ofmay, might, couldReducing Inflated ExpressionsAsk yourself, Can I say this in fewer words?
ExamplesIn the event that a slave hunter would find Jim, Huck planned to claim that he was Jims master. Vs.If a slave hunter would find Jim, Huck planned to claim that he was Jims master. PracticeSelect the phrase that would make the sentence more concise without changing its meaning.They decided to continue with research despite the fact that there were serious budget constraints.although there werenotwithstanding thedespitein the face of
Now, read your excerpt for wordiness. Eliminate unnecessary or redundant words and simplify inflated expressions.
Step 2. Avoid Passive VoicePassive Voice The subject of the sentence is not the doer of the actionExamplePassive: The argument about hypocrisy was suggested by Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. Active: Fitzgerald suggested the argument about hypocrisy in The Great Gatsby.
Practice Passive VoiceRephrase the following sentences to change from passive to active voice.The surgeon was assisted by two nurses.The mine disaster was caused by an earthquake.The chemistry lab was taught by a TA.
Now, edit your excerpt for passive voice. Change to active voice to eliminate wordiness.Step 3. Change Negatives to PositivesExampleNegative: The two samples were not the same as the others.Positive: The two samples were different than the others.
Again, negatives tend to be wordier. Practice - NegativesRephrase the sentences in the affirmative.Do not continue the treatment if the patient has serious side effects. The food safety board failed to accept about 2% of the shipments. The two theories are not the same in several important aspects. Now, edit your excerpt for negatives. Change to positive phrasing to eliminate wordiness.Be CarefulWhen working on concision, be sure to avoidTrimming too much Leaving out important details Consider your audience!Changing the meaning of the sentencesExampleThe team of chemists conducted a study that linked the presence of smog with an increase in deaths from heart disease. Vs.The team of chemists proved that smog increases the number of deaths from heart disease. Check revisions against the original to be sure that the meaning if in tact. Other ConsiderationsCombine sentences Watch your modifiersVery, basically, practically, definitely, generally, specific, individualAvoid unnecessary that, who, and which clausesThe report, which was released recently The recent reportAll applicants who are interested in the job All applicantsThe system that is most efficient and accurate The most efficient and accurate systemAvoid overusing it is or there are phrases at the beginnings of sentences