Magic Trick to Cut Down on Wordiness

Want a Magic Trick to Cut Down on Wordiness?

by Barbara McNichol

Ever wonder how to make your sentences less verbose and more direct?

Here’s a trick that works like magic: Change long nouns to short verbs.

Consider the differences in these three examples from a nonfiction manuscript I edited:

  • “They remain in contradiction with themselves” vs. “They contradict themselves.”
  • “He made an acknowledgment of her success” vs. “He acknowledged her success.”
  • “We get closer to the implementation of leadership practices” vs. “We get closer to implementing leadership practices.”

Pay attention to these examples. They show how you can increase readability by turning a long-winded “heavy” phrase into an active “lively” verb. What clues do you look for? Nouns ending in “ion” and “ment.”

Whatever you edit your own work, use this “magic” trick often. What a difference this one technique can make! Try it for yourself.

Action: Identify “ion” and “ment” words in your writing, then rewrite them using a lively verb. Send your examples here.


Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping administration professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.wordtrippers.com/odi


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