We all know how hard it is to write long essays with a minimum word count.
But sometimes, we're faced with the opposite challenge - keeping our essays under a maximum count.
Anyone who has ever tried covering complex topics with a maximum word ceiling can tell you that it can be challenging to reduce the word count without sacrificing the meaning or flow of your piece.
In this article, I’ll give you 8 easy tips to help you reduce the word count in your essays without compromising the quality of your writing.
1. Use an active voice instead of passive
Using an active voice makes your writing more direct and concise. Passive voice often adds unnecessary words and can make your writing sound less engaging. For instance:
By switching to the passive voice, we’ve reduced our overall word count, while also making the sentence more engaging.
Be sure to check out our full guide on how to nail the active voice.
2. Spot the fluff
One of the easiest ways to reduce word count is to identify any unnecessary or redundant information in your piece. Whether it’s drawn out introductions, or repetitive information, there’s always something that you can do without. Some tools, like Wordtune Read can actually help you identify areas where you can afford to shorten your writing, or even entire paragraphs that you can cut out.
3. Eliminate redundant words
Many sentences contain words that don't add any value to their meaning and can be easily removed. Very, for example, is a very common offender (see what I did there?). Instead of writing It was very cold outside, just write It was cold outside.
Here are some more examples of redundant words to help you get the idea:
4. Shorten wordy phrases
Another way to reduce word count is to identify and shorten wordy phrases.
For example, instead of writing "due to the fact that," you can write "because."
Once you get in the habit of shortening your phrases, it will be like second nature. There are also some tools that can help you with that, like Wordtune's "shorten" feature, which can suggest shorter ways to write a sentence without sacrificing clarity.
5. Stop using "What" and "There" as subjects
Using "What" or "There" as the subject of a sentence will add unnecessary words to your writing. Instead, you can rephrase the sentence to make the subject more specific.
6. Drop the conjunctions
Conjunctions such as "and," "but," and "however" can be used to connect two independent statements, but they also add unnecessary words to your sentence. Instead of creating one, long sentence that is put together by conjunctions, try writing two separate sentences instead. Usually you’ll find that these end up using less words overall.
This may seem like a small difference, but over the course of an entire paper, these small changes will really add up.
7. Forget the running starts
In writing, a "running start" refers to a sentence that begins with a word or phrase that does not provide any useful information and can be easily removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence. Common examples of running starts include words like "it," "there," "here," "this," and "that." These words often add unnecessary words to a sentence and can make the writing sound less direct and less engaging. Removing them can help to make your writing more concise and to the point.
8. Use shorter words
Sometimes, an assignment has a page limit rather than a word count, in this instance, it can be worth it to identify words that can be replaced with shorter words of the same meaning. For example, instead of writing "utilize," you can write "use."
Here are some other common words that can afford to lose a few letters:
Less is more
If you’re looking for tips on how to INCREASE word count, check out this article.
There are plenty of ways to reduce your word count without sacrificing the quality of your writing. Use these tips and tricks the next time you find yourself desperately trying to squeeze too many sentences onto one page. Keep in mind that whenever you shorten a text, you’re usually improving it by making it more readable and accessible to a larger audience.
Remember, when it comes to writing - less, is usually more.
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.