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The more words you use, the fewer people remember. And the greater the chance of confusing or boring your reader, too.

But achieving brevity takes time and effort. The only way to shorten your work is to edit ruthlessly. Then edit again.

Here are four things to check when you’re editing:

  1. Stay on message – make sure you haven’t added unnecessary detail. Even if it is interesting, include it only if it’s essential to the message.
  2. Say it simply – check your work for wordy phrases or unusual words – often they are not needed. Effective writing uses straightforward language everybody can understand.
  3. Identify any repetition – often people say the same thing in different words and can’t decide which to use. Delete one. Or they write a technical sentence then give the plainer version. Delete the technical one.
  4. Weed out unnecessary small words – often you’ll come to realise that you don’t need them.

And when you’ve done all that, go through and edit again. Every edit, try to lose some words.

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