How to write more concisely - an easy guide
If you enjoy writing it is easy to type reels and reels of information into a press release or blog, but sometimes less is more.
Too many words can be unnecessary and over-complicated and in most cases a short, sharp sentence is usually the most effective.
Five ways you can write more concisely
Having worked as a journalist for three years and having spent two years beforehand training, I learned how to write articles optimized for websites.
There is no typical day when you are a journalist. One day you can be standing in the pouring rain at a police cordon and the next you can be sitting in a council meeting, but what is guaranteed is the fact you will be doing lots of writing.
From writing live blogs on a breaking news story to a feature on how your local hospital is coping with winter pressures, it is important to make sure you inform the public. That is why the style of your writing is so important.
When writing for online, it is important to make sure you keep the reader engaged. This makes them stay on the page for longer. There are many ways to do this, such as: including imagery, writing compelling copy, including polls or infographics and writing about topics that are interesting.
However, you can also help by making sure your content is easy to read in the first place.
Here are some of my top tips on how to write more concisely:
1. Remove filler words
Take out meaningless words. For example, the word ‘that’. In 90 per cent of circumstances it adds absolutely nothing to your sentence (unless it is joining two sentences together). It is a classic case of writing how you might speak but, once it has been removed, your sentence will sound much better. The same goes for any ‘filler’ word – if you can take it out and the sentence still makes sense, you probably don’t need it.
Here are some more examples of filler words: just, basically, like and very.
2. Keep your structure simple
If you are faced with a tricky or complicated topic, don’t panic. Keep it simple. Start by introducing your press release, blog or article and then move on to explaining the topic and unraveling the jargon. Take it step-by-step. There is no need to write an essay but, if you are worried, it can be helpful to ask someone with no understanding of the topic to read it and check it all makes sense. You could always try breaking up complex pieces of text with imagery and text boxes to make it more reader-friendly too.
3. Be active rather than passive
A passive sentence usually involves the words ‘by’ ‘am’ or ‘were’ as well as a passive verb. Sometimes these sentences are necessary but in many circumstances it just creates unnecessary extra words.
‘The dog was bought by Mary’ becomes ‘Mary bought the dog’
4. Shorten long names once they’ve been introduced
When introducing a company name or a long phrase put the initials in brackets afterwards. This means if you need to keep repeating the name you can use the initials for the rest of the piece and save overwhelming the reader.
5. Keep it simple when introducing a quote
Use ‘said’ or ‘added’ when introducing a quote. You aren’t writing a novel so there is no need to describe how the person is saying the words. It also makes it much easier to read. In the quote, try and make sure what is included is all relevant and, if possible, adds something new to your story. This way you won’t be repeating what has already been said.
No press release or blog can follow one structure and style but these tips might help you create content which is easier to read and more effective in its message.
Get in touch to find out how we could help you with your content creation.
By Hannah Mitchell
Hannah joins the team as a senior qualified journalist and is used to working at a fast pace in a busy newsroom. She brings with her experience in writing compelling copy and knows exactly how to produce strong local and national coverage. Hannah supports clients across multiple sectors from home interiors and construction through to retail.