10 Ways to Write Concisely

Writing something with fewer words requires patience. It requires you to take the time to form your argument, come up with the facts or relevant supporting information, to fill it in and edit it down. Here are 10 ways and examples to make your writing more concise. Download this as a handy checklist!

This is a free resource which helps you find most of the errors listed below. It helps identify some of the problems listed if you are unsure of what they are, even after reading this blog. It can’t help you find everything but it’s a great place to start. This app also tells you the grade level of your writing – you should aim for about “8th grade” writing.

Split sentences in two.

See how you can shorten a sentence by splitting it in two. Aim to reduce the number of words in your sentences to 14 to 16 words. “Rudolf Flesch, best known for his classic books Why Johnny Can’t Read and The Art of Plain Talk, said that the best average sentence length for business writing is 14 to 16 words. 20 to 25 words is passible but above 40 and the writing becomes unreadable.” (The Copywriter’s Handbook, Robert W. Bly, 2020). 

Gettin' technical - adverbs!

We’re getting technical and talking about adverbs! According to the Oxford dictionary, an adverb is “a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb, or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree. Some examples of adverbs to watch out for are “often, also, just, never, quite, then, really.” Adverbs also end in -ly – words like unnecessarily, boldly, basically. 

Use the active voice

The alternative to active voice is passive voice. Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. Some examples are “The ball was thrown [verb] by the pitcher [subject].” “When her business was in shambles [passive], she had to think of ways to re-energize it.” (15 words, still okay within the number of words but could be better) This sentence could be changed to “With her business in shambles, she re-energized it.” (8 words) Reduced by half and still the same message. 

Overuse of ways to say "to be".

Overusing ways of saying “to be” results in using the words “is, are, was, were, to be. 

Example: “It is a combination of these two elements that makes your business weak.” 
Change to: “The combination of these two elements makes your business weak.”

Use contractions!

Contractions make your writing sound less robotic and more conversational. Despite what your English teacher told you, contractions are good in writing (and help reduce the number of words). 

Use the shortest form of a word.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using long words to sound more educated. Sometimes it just happens if you have a larger vocabulary. But try to use the simplest form of the world. 

“Utilize” instead of “use”.
“Conceptualization” instead of “concept”.

Replace a phrase with a word.

Go through your writing and look for phrases that can be replaced with a word. See the chart below for references of commonly used phrases and replace them in your writing. 


The reason for

because, since, why

For the reason that

Due to the fact that

Owing to the face that

In light of the fact that

Considering the fact that

On the grounds that


Despite the fact that

although, even though

Regardless of the fact that


In the event that


If it should happen that

Under circumstances in which


On the occasion of


In a situation in which

Under circumstances in which


As regards


In reference to

With regard to

Concerning the matter of

Where ___ is concerned


It is crucial that

must, should

It is necessary that

There is a need/necessity for

It is important that


Is able to


Is in a position to

Has the opportunity to

Has the capacity for

Has the ability to


It is possible that

may, might,

can, could

There is a chance that

It could happen that

The possibility exists for


Prior to

before, when, as, after

In anticipation of

Subsequent to

Following on

At the same time as

Simultaneously with


Not different


Not many


Not have


Not include


Not consider


Not the same


Not often


Not allow


Not admit


Not accept


Edit, revise, step away, and edit again!

The writing process is more than just spitting out a bunch of words and hitting publish. To make your writing (or talking) clear, take some time away from it, and edit again with a fresh pair of eyes. 

Start with the goal and make an outline.

Start with your goal and create an outline with the points you want to cover. This will help you stay on track, cover the points you need to and not overtalk/overwrite. Oh, and one more thing, don’t worry about hitting a certain number of word count (i.e. for a blog post). 

Download this as a checklist to keep while you are in editing/revision mode!

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I'm Amilia

Thoughts, tips and insights on virtual assistant tasks, copywriting and marketing.

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