When you’ve spent ages slaving away writing the perfect article, essay or report, deleting some of your precious words to meet a strict word limit can be painful.

Posted on Thu 30th Aug, 2018 in: CopywritingEditingProofreadingWriting For The Web

But when you don’t want to lose any of the important points you’ve made, how do you reduce your word count?

Here are 5 easy ways to cut words from your work, without sacrificing any of your key ideas:

1)     Remove conjunctions that join sentences

Look for sentences you’ve joined together using conjunctions, such as ‘and’ and ‘but’. Delete the conjunction and replace it with a full stop to make two sentences. Not only will you reduce your word count, the shorter sentences will also make your writing snappier.

Change:

Leah arrived on time but no one else was there.

To:

Leah arrived on time. No one else was there.

2)     Write in the active voice

Look for passive sentences and change them into the active voice.

Passive sentence: The breakthrough will be celebrated by the scientists (8 words)

Active sentence: The scientists will celebrate the breakthrough (6 words)

Just like that, you’ve cut out 2 words and made your text easier to read.

3)     Use contractions

Using contractions might be inappropriate for an essay or formal document, but if you’re writing a blog post, article or web page, using contractions is a great way of reducing your word count and making your writing sound conversational:

Change:

it is to it’s

you are to you’re

we have to we’ve

4)     Cut the adverbs

Adverbs are words that you use to modify verbs or adjectives, e.g. to tell the reader the manner in which something was done. They usually end in ‘ly’.

Look for them and either cut them out entirely or, if cutting them out would change the meaning of your sentence, replace them with a single verb instead.

Change:

walked slowly to plodded or walked

talked quietly to whispered

5)     Remove unnecessary words

If you’ve used multiple words when just one would do, delete the words that don’t add anything to the meaning, or shorten the phrase into one word:

Change:

In order to to to

More and more to more

A number of to numerous

These days, Microsoft Word is usually pretty good at telling you when you’ve used a long phrase that can be shortened. It underlines the phrase with a squiggly line and suggests a way to rephrase it.

 

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