Word counts (and/or page counts) can be a nightmare when finalising a submission.
How often is SME content double the length you asked for? Is your red pen out, hyphenating/slashing everything you can, crossing out to achieve the magic number? Then the £64,000 question: does it still make sense? Is it still persuasive? Is your key messaging included? If compliant, you can use diagrams to replace words. Although appealing to visual evaluators, this may not help where you are page, not word-limited…
Not only does The Great Word Cut ensure you meet word count, it is best practice. The APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) publishes a plain language checklist – including “omit excess words”.
Did you know many commonly used words/phrases are superfluous? The most famous day-to-day example is, as Johnny Rose points out above, PIN number.
The BOK fixing redundant pairs tool shows the common culprits and best practice counterparts. My ‘favourite’ (i.e. biggest bugbear) are:
- In order to / To
- Due to the fact that / Because
- For the purpose of / For
- In a timely manner / On time
- In many cases / Often
- End result / Result
- On a daily/weekly basis / Daily/Weekly
In addition, there are singular big winners – the redundant “that” and “had”. Consider the sentences below:
The team worked on a project that saved £50m / The team worked on a project saving £50m.
The team had worked on a project saving £50m / The team worked on a project saving £50m.
All options mean the same, right? “That” and “had” are the most redundant words used.
You can support your SMEs to write more concisely. But the golden rule for final review is be ruthless. Delete what doesn’t add value. And delete the redundant that!
Footnote: this blog was drafted using the concise approach – undoubtedly, you’ll spot remaining redundant words!