“When you are writing complicated papers or business proposals or business letters for the business that employs you or for your personal business purposes or for any other purpose it is necessary and very important to make sure that you don’t write too many words such as and, but, or, that, thing, and other words like that or else the person reading your paper or letter or proposal will get bored and won’t be able to understand what you want to say and will get lost and confused.”
Whew! That was a mouthful, wasn’t it? This veritable paragraph of a sentence could be written as follows while still maintaining its meaning:
“When you write, it’s important not to use more words than needed.”
Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that I will look more credible if I write more words. I think this instinct stems from high school, where my English teacher would tell l me that I had to write a 500 word essay; naturally, I would express my ideas using as many words as possible. However, now that I’m in the real world, it’s different.
When you write something for business purposes, remember that whoever reads what you write is probably very busy. The last thing a busy person wants to do is read through a super-wordy, 10 page proposal. As I demonstrated above, often we use far more words than are necessary to convey our point. If you eliminate unnecessary words from your writing, not only will it be more enjoyable to read, but much easier to understand.
Note that I said to eliminate unnecessary words, not necessary words. You will certainly need to write a certain amount to convey your point; however, if you use only the words necessary, your writing will be much more effective. For example, the phrase “I will look it up on my iPhone after dinner” could be condensed into “I will look it up after dinner,” unless the fact that you are using your iPhone is crucial to the meaning of the sentence.
Eliminating unnecessary words also often eliminates grammatical errors. For example, the sentence “I looked up the stock prices who the major investors are the subcontractors that the company uses” is a run-on sentence; however, if I eliminate unnecessary words, the problem virtually solves itself: “I looked up the company’s stock prices, major investors, and subcontractors” a grammatically correct and easy-to-understand sentence!
When I finish writing this article, I am going to re-read it several times, each time trying to make each sentence as short as possible while still maintaining its meaning. I encourage you to do the same. The more unnecessary words you eliminate, the more fun it will be to read your writing, and the better you will get your point across.