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Language: Revising for Conciseness and Clarity

Summary:

Provides information on revising business documents for audience and purpose with emphasis on language, tone, organization, and correctness.

Contributors:Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:23:43

Have I used ONLY the essential words to get my message across to the reader?

Wordy: Sale of surplus tappers is one of our primary needs. (10)
Concise: We must sell our surplus tappers. (6)

Wordy: This manual of instructions was prepared to aid our dealers in being helpful to their customers. (16)
Concise: We prepared this instruction manual to help our dealers serve their customers. (12)

Wordy: It is the responsibility of our Production Department to see that it meets the requirements of our Sales Division. (19)
Concise: Our Production Department must meet our Sales Division's requirements. (9)

Have I used too many words to express simple, unimportant, or obvious ideas?

Wordy: The collision had the effect of a destructive force on the duplicator. (12)
Concise: The collision destroyed the duplicator. (5)

Wordy: We have enclosed a pamphlet which shows further details of construction on page four. (14)
Concise: Page four of the enclosed pamphlet shows further construction details. (10)

Wordy: Three days ago you asked us to investigate the problem of discomfort among your office workers. . . We have made our study. Too low humidity is apparently the main cause of your problem. Your building is steam-heated; therefore, your solution is to. . . (41)
Concise: Too low humidity is apparently the cause of your workers' discomfort. Since your building is steam-heated, your solution is to . . . (21)

Have I poured out ideas and facts too rapidly for the reader's comprehension?

Negative Example

Our deluxe models have chromium, rubber-insulated fixtures for durability, economy, and easy maintenance, and convenient controls to cut down on installation costs and necessary adjustments. They operate on AC or DC current and incorporate the latest principles of electronic controls which means flexibility in their use, better adjustment of the thermal units, less chance of error, and reduced labor costs per unit of production.

Have I used vague words instead of more vivid and convincing specific words?

Vague: contact
Specific: call, write, visit

Vague: slowly
Specific about as fast as you normally walk

Vague: soon
Specific: by March 15

Vague: This television set is high quality.
Specific: All components in this television set meet or exceed government specifications for use in manned satellites.

Have I keyed the language to my reader's understanding?

Excessive, Overwritten: The defendant is renowned as a person of intemperate habits. He is known to partake heavily of intoxicating beverages. Further, he cultivates the company of others of the distaff side, and wholly, regularly, and consistently refuses and abstains from earnest endeavors to gain remuneration.
Accessible, Direct: The defendant drinks, chases other women, and refuses to work.

Excessive, Overwritten: The choice of exogenous variables in relation to multi-collinearity is contingent upon the derivations of certain multiple correlation coefficients.
Accesible, Direct Supply determines demand.

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