Why is it Important to Omit Needless Words

One of the best tips you will ever learn about writing clearly is to omit needless words. That is if you can remove a word from a sentence without changing the sentence’s meaning, do so.

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.

– Strunk & White, The Elements of Style

Originally composed by William Strunk Jr. in 1918, that quote is just as important today. And it is equally applicable when writing technical documents. Almost as important as using an active voice.

Why is it Important to Omit Needless Words?Delete Key

It’s important because fewer words are easier to read and there’s less chance your readers will misunderstand you.

This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short or that he avoid all detail. But vigorous writing is concise

An easy way to put this principle into practice is to write your document without worrying about how long your sentences are. Then go back later and try to remove words without changing your meaning.

Example

For example, the following sentence is grammatically correct but very wordy: “We will put in place such measures as are necessary to ensure that the staffing needs of the project are adequately resourced to meet essential requirements.”

That’s 26 words. Is every single word required?

What we’re really trying to say here is that “We will ensure the project is adequately staffed.”

In just eight words, we’ve expressed the same information. It’s clearer, more concise, and easier to read.

Your readers will thank you!

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