Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tips for making your writing more concise

One thing all good legal writers have in common is that they strive to trim the fat from their writing. To that end, here are some tips (avec examples) for doing just that from Lynn Gaertner-Johnston's Business Writing blog:

1. Reduce the use of sentence openers such as "There is" and "These are." Compare these sentence pairs:

  • There is something you need to consider.
  • Consider this:
  • There are people listed on the roster who did not attend.
  • Not everyone on the roster attended.

2. Cut sentence flab. When you finish writing a piece, cut the word count by at least 10 percent. It is easier than you may think. Compare these sentences:

  • As of this date, the final rule has not been published.
  • The final rule has not yet been published.
  • Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions and concerns.
  • Please contact me with questions and concerns.

3. Condense prepositional phrases into one word. Prepositional phrases can lead to flabby sentences. When possible, create sleek, concise sentences using single words rather than phrases. Compare these items, with prepositions underlined:

  • She is of service to her community.
  • She serves her community.
  • We will end the presentation with comments from Dr. Davies.
  • Dr. Davies' comments will end the presentation.

Check out more of Ms. Gaertner-Johnston's tips for concise writing here.


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