If it’s not concise, kill it!

In only a couple of years, we have adopted a new reading standard based on Twitter. We want the whole story but we want it short, sweet and simple. The brevity trend isn’t new. It started with the launch of USA Today in 1982, but Twitter’s 140 characters have brought the trend to new heights.

Writing tight, without wasting words, means heavy editing. Here are some tips:

Skip cliches. “We eat our own dog food” or “we practice what we preach” can be revised to something more direct: we use the product we make.

Delete duplicates. “Personal opinion” or “free gift” both can be reduced to a single word without changing their meanings.

Cut qualifiers. What’s the difference between “very unique” and unique? If the word is not adding to the story, you don’t need it.

Use an active voice. The difference between, “The report gave an analysis of the project” and “The report analyzed the project” is active voice. The second sentence also is more concise.

Finally, write for your reader. If your material will be read online, forget Proust-like sentences and get to the point quickly.

What are your tips for tightening your text?

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