Writing concisely is an art. And it’s not only about using fewer words. It’s about packing a punch into every sentence.
Think of it like a tightrope walker — every step (word) must be carefully chosen to reach the other side. Too many words, and you lose your reader's focus, whereas too few can leave them with unanswered questions. Finding the balance between the two is key to writing concisely and effectively.
Writing concisely is also a science. And it’s not only about grammar and syntax. It’s about understanding that you’ve got competition, and you need to write the best sentences and paragraphs that you possibly can.
The average English speaker has 50,000 words in their mind. You want yours to stand out. Bonus points if your writing comes together in a way that the reader retains, bookmarks, and references. Here’s how to collect those bonus points:
Know your reader
Knowing your reader and understanding what they want helps you write concisely. That’s because you already know what they know so you get to the point.
For example, in this article I didn’t need to define “concise writing” because you know what it is. You want tips on how to do it.
Tailor your writing to include the content that your readers are most likely to understand. This allows you to eliminate unnecessary words and phrases, resulting in a more concise and clear piece of writing. This way, your writing can be more direct and engaging, enabling your readers to quickly grasp your message.
Adjust your tone of voice and sentence structure for your reader too. For academic writing, you’d typically use formal language and a third-person perspective but business writing is more direct, actionable, and concise. And, if you’re having fun with a blog post, you can be more conversational and light-hearted. Right?
Concise sentence example #1
For example, for business writing, you might say, "Take action now to get the results you want," whereas for a blog post, you might say, "Go ahead and take the plunge - you won't regret it!"
Research your topic
Research your topic thoroughly so that you can provide accurate information precisely without going off the rails.
With thorough research, you gather necessary facts but write about them in fewer words than if you were simply guessing or assuming what you knew was correct. Detailed research helps you gain a better understanding of the subject matter so you can identify the most important details and explain them in a clear and concise manner.
Plus, research can help you to identify potential flaws in your argument and address them proactively instead of having gaps in your work.
Concise sentence example #2
Before: I think that this phenomenon happens because of X, Y, and Z.
After: X, Y, and Z are the three main contributors to this phenomenon.
Use simple language
Use language that is easily understood by the reader. Complex language that includes jargon and technical terms makes your message less clear and is difficult to follow. For instance, instead of using the phrase "facilitate the process," you could use the phrase "make it easier" to convey the same message. Or, like Nike, be direct and say "just do it."
You can use Wordtune's casual tone to make every sentence simpler and easier to understand.
Concise sentence example #3
Before: Utilize the software to expedite the task.
After: Use the software to get the job done quickly.
Avoid repetition and transitions
Extra words take up room on a document and space in your reader’s brain without adding value. Comb through your paragraphs to eliminate any overuse and repetition. For example, instead of saying "It is important to keep in mind that this is a crucial factor to remember", just say "Remember, this is important".
Similarly, if two sentences say the same thing, or use unnecessary transitions, cut the filler words and consolidate it into one concise sentence. It’s good practice to connect your ideas but only if you’re not adding redundant words in the process. Like "as you know" or "to put it another way". They don’t add value to the overall piece. For example, instead of writing “He wanted to go home to freshen up. In other words he wanted to take a shower”, try “He wanted to go home and take a shower.”
Concise sentence example #4
Before: He had no intention of staying late at work. To put it another way, he was eager to leave.
After: He was eager to leave work.
Use active voice
Active voice should be chosen over passive voice. No. Choose active voice over passive voice.
See what I did there? Active voice = Fewer words, more impact.
Active voice is generally easier to read and understand and it can help keep your content concise. Yoast’s readability analysis recommends using passive voice in no more than 10% of your sentences. Sounds like a task? Do a quick scan using “Control + F” or “Command + F” for words like “was”, “by” and “be” and rework those sentences.
Concise sentence example #5
For example, rewrite “The project was finished by our team” in active voice and change it to “Our team finished the project.” This removes two words without compromising clarity or meaning.
Choose synonyms to find stronger verbs and adverbs
Look for opportunities to use active verbs and adverbs that better communicate your ideas in fewer words. For example, instead of "walk slowly," you could use "saunter" to convey more detail without increasing the length of your sentence. The word “saunter" suggests a leisurely stroll whereas the phrase "walk slowly" does not. Another example: Use the adverb "rapidly" instead of "very quickly."
Pro writing tip: Use a synonym tool to save time and choose the precise word you want.
Concise sentence example #6
Before: She ran very quickly.
After: She sprinted.
Before: He spoke softly.
After: He whispered.
Make every word count
Eliminate any words that don't add meaning to your writing. In short, cut the fluff. Prioritize what is most important in your writing by focusing on the main points of your topic.
Concise writing doesn’t have to be dry and boring, or sound like a stuck record. You can be creative and specific to have an impact. Use examples and analogies to explain your point, and think about whether a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire article can be more succinct.
Studies have shown that when the average sentence length is 14 words, readers understand more than 90% of what they are reading. At 43 words, comprehension drops to less than 10%.
But be careful of the succinct trap in your writing process — not every sentence has to be limited to a few words. A mix of short, medium, and long sentences makes your writing flow and is pleasing to the reader.
As Gary Provost says in his lesson on This Sentence Has Five Words:
“I vary the sentence length, and I create music.”
You can also use AI to reduce or increase your word count, this way making your sentences shorter and more concise.
Concise sentence example #7
Before: "We recommend you to come to the office each and every day in order to take advantage of the benefits of communicating in person."
After: "We recommend daily office visits to benefit from in-person communication."
Choose an AI writing assistant
It’s 2023. AI tools are handy writing assistants with plenty of benefits. They don’t experience writer’s block (only the occasional technical glitch), have a prolific vocabulary so they can suggest rephrasing alternatives, and offer a variety of tones to choose from. Wordtune goes a mile further with a menu of spices to add flavor — examples, statistics, humor, quotes, and facts.
With the grunt work taken care of, you can focus on what matters — concise and quality writing!
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.