Tag Archives: wordiness

Words, Words, Words Only An English Teacher Could Love

Back when I was a liberal arts major, I had to write papers. A lot of papers. All of these papers had a page count that we students had to meet. And every night before a paper was due, I’d usually end up anywhere from two to five pages shy of the length requirement.

What did I do? I padded, of course. Twice became on two separate occasions. If a case was because of another factor, then it became so due to the fact that. And if many scholars agreed with my viewpoint, then a large number of scholars saw it my way. With a little creative rewording, I could even stretch a paper beyond its length requirement – just to show that I really had a whizbang argument to make.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Any writer who really learned to write through papers in college probably did this, and I even had a professor who admitted to my class that she’d done the same just to meet the length requirements of her doctoral thesis. But in the world outside of college, that sort of writing is wordy and unnecessary.

Many writers worry that if they don’t “puff up” their writing with academic flourishes such as the ones I mentioned above, their writing will sound thin and mediocre. But that’s not the case. Wordiness only annoys the reader; instead, write in language that readers are used to hearing (only, of course, with better grammar). You want to be precise, natural, and to the point.

Be merciless when you self-edit: Is it really necessary to write in the near future when soon gets the point across with just one word? At this point in time, isn’t today better?

Wordiness neither adds value to your writing nor makes you seem smarter. It just makes the writing seem forced and academic, as if you have so little to say that you have to streeeetch out the sentences (just as I did in college). Direct language is far more readable and accessible.

After all, you can’t get even the best ideas out to the world if they’re couched in language only an English teacher could love.