To capture an audience’s attention and keep it, writers must figure out how best to communicate their message. Too many words distract readers and make them lose focus. When I edit, I look for ways to make the language concise — that doesn’t necessarily mean deleting words just to make copy shorter. I focus on what is the most efficient way to communicate the message. These six tips help you say more with less.
1. Delete filler words. Do your sentences contain words that can be removed without changing the meaning? If so, delete them. These filler words weaken your message and make readers work harder to understand you.
2. Use active voice. Writing in passive voice isn’t wrong, but it creates awkward sentence structures and conceals who is acting in the sentence. Writing in passive voice also tends to lengthen writing, which makes your message less concise.
Passive: The report was written by Courtney.
Active: Courtney wrote the report.
Passive: Readers are distracted by sentences that are too long.
Active: Long sentences distract readers.
3. Shorten your sentences. Long sentences distract readers. If you cannot delete any information, break up long sentences into smaller portions that are easier for readers to digest.
4. Skip the jargon. Writers use jargon to make their writing more complex or technical. Yet, if readers don’t understand the terminology, they will get lost and quit reading. To effectively communicate your message, think about your audience and what they expect from you.
5. Avoid repetition. If you overuse words or phrases, you will bore your readers. If you notice repetition, edit to make your message concise.
6. Have someone read your work. Writers (both professional and amateur) are attached to their words and can fail to see when clarity is needed. When you don’t have access to a copy editor, have a coworker or friend read your work.