Exercises in Concision
Wordy: The teacher demonstrated some of the various ways and methods for cutting words from my essay that I had written for class. (22 words)
Concise: The teacher demonstrated methods for cutting words from my essay. (10 words)
Now, try your hand at making these clearer and more concise while still maintaining the original meaning. Keep the original sentence or sentences, and compose your revision underneath each one. Don’t only eliminate word; use more precise terminology when appropriate.
It would help me grade faster if you put your responses in a different color or type of font or italicized them to make them stand apart better. (3 pts each)
1. The politician talked about several of the merits of after-school programs in his speech.
2. Angela believed but could not confirm that her neighbor of several years had been quietly secretly reading her catalogs from her mailbox.
3. Our Web site has made available many of the things you can use for making a decision on the best optometrist.
4. Working as a pupil under someone who develops photos was an experience that really helped me learn a lot.
Combine sentences and cut down on words when possible.
5. The office manager truly preferred all interoffice reports to be prepared on time. He also wanted all letters to be on the most current stationery and for them to be prepared with Times New Roman 12-point font.
6. The supposed crash of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico, aroused interest in extraterrestrial life. This crash is rumored to have occurred in 1947.
Reduce clauses to phrases and phrases to single words. Eliminate unnecessary phrases that do not enhance the meaning of the sentence.
7. John Tarleton Agricultural College, which was a college founded in 1899, was the first to join the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College system, and that happened in 1917.
8. Citizens who knew what was going on voted him out of his happy little office space.
9. Recommending that a student copy from another student’s paper is not something he would recommend.
10. Grandmothers who tell the tale of having to wear flour-sack dresses during the Depression are likely met with quizzical, puzzled looks.
11. After all, most young American citizens have never laid their eyes on a flour sack.
12. When young Americans try to picture clothing made of flour sacks, they probably picture a homely creation that boldly proclaims FLOUR on the bodice; however, most flour sacks were unmarked in the 1930s.
13. As more homemakers began sewing leftover plain sacks into clothing, the manufacturers had the realization that it would be wise to sell flour and feed in patterned sacks.
14. They saw that if they sold flour or feed in bags of printed cloth, consumers would buy an extra measure of flour or feed just to get the material.
15. While it is true that the material was sturdy enough to hold one hundred pounds of flour or feed, the prints themselves were pretty and bright.
16. As a matter of fact, there are more woodlands in Connecticut now than there were in 1898.
17. All things considered, Connecticut’s woodlands are in better shape now than ever before.
18. Due to the fact that their habitats are being restored, forest creatures are also re-establishing their population bases.
19. In a very real sense, this policy works to the detriment of those it is supposed to help.
20. In the case of this particular policy, citizens of northeast Connecticut became very upset.
Rewrite overused jargon or clichés.
21. She’s cool as a cucumber when it’s budget crunch time.
22. I wanted all my ducks in a row, so if we did get into a posture, we could pretty much slam-dunk this thing and put it to bed.
23. Alexander took the bull by the horns and made the gutsy decision to sell the Acme Bean Company stock.
24. Most of us were not down with the fact that gargoyles were a big deal to the stability of the buildings’ structure.
Strengthen these sentences by removing the fillers it and there, and rewrite the sentences to emphasize the logical subjects and verbs. If the passive voice has snuck back in, eliminate it.
25. There are many tools that are used by mechanics.
26. It was noticed by the mechanic that the check-engine light was malfunctioning.
27. There are always people who somehow want to beat the system.
28. There are several different types of needles that can be used.
29. Payment will be made as soon as the bill is received by us.
Eliminate the unnecessary words in these sentences.
30. This morning at 8:00 am the prisoners were transferred away to the prison facility by means of a bus.
31. It is absolutely necessary that the scalpels be sharp-edged in order to bisect the specimens in two.
32. Remove any and all foreign objects from the sensor machine.
33. I am of the opinion that the administrative agencies are at this point in time failing to work together for the enhancement of our lives.
Adapted from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/572/01/, http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/concise.htm and other sources