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Tighten and Trim Your Business Writing

Once you complete a business writing task, you probably feel proud and even a little in love with how well it reads. But what if you went way over in word or page count? At Business Writing That Counts! we teach our clients how to tighten and trim their writing for maximum effect—at minimum length. Regardless of word count requirements, concise writing simply is more professional and more likely to keep a reader on the page or screen. In particular, emails and blog posts should remain brief and to the point. The better you become at writing, or the more help you have from trained in-house help, the less you'll likely have to cut during revision. So, the first secret to writing concisely is to improve your writing skills and confidence. Then, try these tips for trimming writing down to its most effective length:

Review structure. It's helpful to give your audience some clues to your main focus early on in a written piece, but you don't have to outline all your points in an introductory paragraph, like an academic abstract. Use that up-front paragraph to draw readers in and hint at what's to come. Keep to specifics. Use data and anecdotes to demonstrate your point, avoiding generalities. For example, instead of saying, "We realize that many of our customers find it difficult to access our online portal, so we had to make some changes," tell a story. "A customer in XXX recently called because she could not find the log-in icon on our home page, so we moved it to the top right corner and enlarged it." The example takes a few more words, but it is specific. Get visual. The reason infographics became popular is that they present lots of information in a small space. They also have visuals and a clean, organized layout, so no searching through three paragraphs to find out how many people signed up for the company's new maintenance program. Other tricks are diagrams, subheads to "diagram" the flow and key points, and use of bullet points. All of these approaches can cut word count and make it easier to find information in a written piece, plus make it more attractive visually. Turn passive sentences to active ones. Passive writing adds length to documents a few words at a time. Consider: "It is my recommendation that we have a meeting to discuss the transition to hybrid office and work-at-home models." Instead, say "I recommend a meeting about how to transition to a hybrid work model." That change eliminated eight words. Think how many words you could save after 20 sentences or so. Spot the obvious. Eliminate those useless words and phrases that we tend to add as we think out loud and transfer our thoughts to a screen. Words like obviously, really, truly, and importantly add little meaning. With good writing, your audience knows whether a point you make is important, true, or even obvious! Trim and tighten your writing to meet word count limits and your readers' limited attention. Get help making your business writing more concise. With our licensing program, we thoroughly train you or a colleague to provide in-house business writing help when and where you need it. Call us at 425.485.3221.

Here’s to good writing!

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