Shorter

Image of Balise Pascal and text "If I had more time I would write a shorter letter."

I’m finishing my last assignment for the semester and trying to cut out words. I thought I’d share some of my top tips for getting a document under the word limit.

  • In order to can always be shortened to ‘to’.
  • You can almost always just delete the word ‘just’.
  • Words like ‘very’, ‘completely’ and ‘indubitably’ can very often be deleted.
  • Put it in a footnote[1].
  • Use contractions. ‘They’re’ not ‘they are’. ‘Can’t’ instead of ‘can not’.
  • Don’t use ‘mayn’t’, unless you’re wearing a bonnet.
  • Define the initialism/acronym once then use the shortened version.
  • Learn the difference between an initialism and acronym, then never let people forget it.
  • Use active voice. For example, ‘I told her ATM isn’t an acronym’ not ‘She was informed by me that ATM isn’t an acronym.’
  • Write whole thing in style of Bridget Jones Diary or similar. No need for pronouns or definite articles. Vg.

[1] Or a table.

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