ProofreadingPal Blog

Professional Writing

March 14, 2012 by Lori in Books and Manuscripts

As an editor with proofreadingpal.com, an issue that I frequently encounter is unnecessary wordiness and redundancy…and yes, I do realize that I just listed two issues, not one. I did so intentionally (and hoped you would notice) because the two so often occur together. I’ve edited many books, short stories, and even papers by authors who seemingly believed that ambiguous, dramatic, and descriptive words (and even repetition) somehow increased their document’s level of professionalism. Perhaps they were attempting to make the scene come alive for the reader or evoke a sense of rambling thought—very noble intentions indeed. Regardless, unnecessary wordiness and redundancy are generally considered unacceptable in professional writing. Following is an example of the type of thing I’m talking about (a combination of several sentences I’ve encountered, lest I use the actual words of any of my authors).

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Original:On the basis of all of the information that I had previously received and understood to be the case, I made a final and definitive decision with regard to what needed to be the outcomes and best results out of the ugly, unfortunate situation.”

Rewrite: “Based on previous information, I made a decision regarding the desired outcome.”

In addition to the obvious examples, however, there are many “acceptable” cases of unnecessary wordiness often used in everyday speech and writing. Examples:

“In order to” should simply be “to.” (He wrote that document in order to appeal to the masses.)
“Considered to be” should generally be “considered.” (It was considered to be necessary.)
“Very critical” should be “critical.” (She was in a very critical condition.)
“And/or” should be either “and” or “or” (“and/or” conveys an indecisive tone).

Then there are the slightly more obvious (but not quite egregious) examples of wordiness and redundancy:
“She hoped they would notice her accomplishments and achievements.”

“These changes are urgent and critical, and we hope that you will implement them quickly.”

“She wept tears of regret and remorse, sighing sadly as she remembered the memories of days gone by.”

It was a beautiful, stunning vision, one of loveliness, charm, and allure…” (This requires attention to sentence structure.)

“…and so on, and so forth.” (Try “and the like.”)

At proofreadingpal.com, we help you to eliminate wordiness for several reasons:
1. The reader may get lost in the sea of words.
2. Too many adjectives may convey emotional involvement rather than professionalism.
3. Professionalism, whether in writing or in other kinds of work, entails efficiency.
Thus, if one word properly conveys the intended meaning, one word should be used.
As my dad would say, “Just spit it out and get to the bottom line.” (We could rewrite that as follows: “Be as concise as possible.”)

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