3 min read
min read
January 21, 2024

8 Proven Methods to Reduce Essay Word Count, AI Included

8 Proven Methods to Reduce Essay Word Count, AI Included

Table of contents

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.

TL;DR

How to Reduce Essay Word Count

1. Use an active voice instead of passive
2. Spot the fluff
3. Eliminate redundant words
4. Shorten wordy phrases
5. Stop using "What" and "There" as subjects
6. Drop the conjunctions
7. Forget the running starts
8. Use shorter words

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.

reduce essay word count

So, without further ado, here are 8 proven methods to reduce essay word count:

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 can actually help you identify areas where you can afford to shorten your writing, or even entire paragraphs that you can cut out.

Wordtune is great for spotting redundant those redundant sentences

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.

Wordtune's "Shorten" feature

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. 

For example: 

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. 

For example:

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.

For example:

Pro Tip: Wordtune's "Shorten" feature is great at eliminating running starts.

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. 

Share This Article:

Looking for
Fresh content?

Thank you!
Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.