• Eliminate unnecessary intensifiers, especially weak ones, such as very, quite, rather, and somewhat.
Few sentences change meaning when these words are eliminated.
EXAMPLE: Very few sentences change meaning when these somewhat unimportant words are eliminated.
• Take a careful look at all adjectives and adverbs, and eliminate all unnecessary and redundant modifiers. Is your meaning already in the subject or verb? If so, cut out the modifiers.
EXAMPLE: The runner dashed swiftly across the finish line at the end of the race.
• Look at all the passive voice constructions and all uses of the verb to be. More meaning can usually fit into fewer words with a concrete, active verb. The heart of a good sentence is the subject and verb core; make sure they hold meaning and interest.
WORDY: The campaign was run efficiently by the manager, Joanna Replogle. [PASSIVE]
CONCISE: The manager, Joanna Replogle, ran the campaign efficiently. [ACTIVE]
• Avoid expletive constructions (there is/are, it is/was, and all similar expressions). These often rob a sentence of energy before it gets a chance to do its work.
WORDY: There are twenty-five students who have already expressed a desire to attend the program next summer. It is they and their parents who stand to gain the most by the government grant. [EXPLETIVES]
CONCISE: Twenty-five students have already expressed a desire to attend the program next summer. They and their parents stand to gain the most by the government grant.
• Avoid saying the same thing twice.
EXAMPLE: Many uneducated citizens who have never attended school continue to vote for better schools.
• Avoid pleonasms—phrases that repeat themselves, such as true fact.
EXAMPLE: The meeting was supposed to start at twelve noon.
• Avoid abbreviated redundancies in which one initial stands for a word that is repeated after the abbreviation.
EXAMPLE: We withdrew $50 from the ATM machine.
• Combine loose, choppy sentences into smoother wholes, with clear subordination and coordination. If you see repeated words frequently, you can probably use combinations and pronouns instead.
WORDY: The vehicles collided at the intersection. The intersection is well known for its blind spots. [REPEATED MATERIAL]
CONCISE: The vehicles collided at the intersection, which is well known for its blind spots. [SUBORDINATED MATERIAL]
WORDY: The vehicles collided at the intersection. The vehicles were later towed away. [REPEATED MATERIAL]
CONCISE: The vehicles collided at the intersection and were later towed away. [COORDINATED MATERIAL]
CONCISE: The vehicles collided at the intersection. They were later towed away. [PRONOUN REPLACING NOUN]
• Almost every instance of a relative clause (one that begins with who, that or which) followed by a version of to be can be made shorter. Eliminate these completely, if possible.
WORDY: President Ford, who was a football player at the University of Michigan, said he always turned to the sports page first in the newspaper. [RELATIVE CLAUSE with BEVERB]
CONCISE: President Ford, a football player at the University of Michigan, said he always turned to the sports page first in the newspaper. [CLAUSE ELIMINATED]
• Be alert for phrases that can be pared to simpler, shorter constructions.
WORDY: Unencumbered by a sense of responsibility, Jason left his wife with forty-nine kids and a can of beans. [PARTICIPIAL PHRASE]
CONCISE: Jason irresponsibly left his wife with forty-nine kids and a can of beans. [ADVERB REPLACES PARTICIPIAL PHRASE]
• Look for phrases that add nothing to the meaning of a sentence. Such phrases quickly put a reader on guard that the writer is trading in puffery; worse, they put a reader to sleep.
EXAMPLE: Woodlands have grown in an area because of the fact that farmers have abandoned their fields.
This policy has a tendency tends to isolate some communities.
Now when you know all these things, you can go ahead and edit the introduction, main body and conclusion of your essay!