Northcentral University Writing Center
Revising for Clarity and Conciseness

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Writing Center

Revising for Clarity and Conciseness


When revising, the writer must pay close attention to eliminating excessive words, unnecessary repetition, redundancy in meaning, and passive voice in the text.


  • Cut or shorten empty words or phrases.

For                                         Substitute            Action or strong verbs should

At all Times                               always              replace strings of short words

At the present time                      now                  Get used to - - familiarize

At this point in time                     now                      Get a hold of - - reach

            In the nature of                            like               Look into the matter - - research

            For the purpose of                        for                    Is of the opinion - - believes

            In order to                                    to

            Until such time as                       until

            For the reason that                    because

            Due to the fact that                    because

            Because of the fact                    because

            By virtue of the fact that              because

            In the event that                            if

            By means of                                by

            In the final analysis                     finally

            Until such time as                       until     

·         Cut unnecessary repetition. Revise sentences beginning with it is or there are.

            Okay    There are more people seeking spirituality than ever before.

            Better   More people are seeking spirituality than ever before.


            Okay    There are three ways of reducing one’s stress: eating well,

                        exercising weekly, and meditating periodically.

            Better   Three ways of reducing one’s stress are eating well, exercising

                        weekly and meditating periodically.

            Best     Eating well, exercising weekly, and meditating periodically are

                        ways of reducing stress.

·         Avoid redundancy in meaning (delete italicized words)

            Biography of his life                               circle around

            Consensus of opinion                             cooperate together

            Final completion                                    the future to come

            Frank and honest exchange                    basic essentials

            Reason why                                           repeat again

            Genuinely authentic                                smart and intelligent

            True-to-life realism                                 unadorned simplicity

            The field of mathematics                        the science of physics  

·         Simplify word groups or phrases

            Wordy:  The nurses must have possession of interpersonal skills and

 combine them with medical skills.

            Concise:  The nurses must possess interpersonal and medical skills.

·         Avoid the following oblique asides or phrases.

            In a manner of speaking                          all things considered

            As far as (subject) is concerned              more or less

            For all intents and purposes                    for the most part

·         Use the active voice as often as possible. The passive voice places the

            subject near the end of the thought, and the sentence commonly

            contains a “to be” verb form.

            Passive:            Rental amounts are controlled by the city.

            Active:              The city controls rental amounts.


For more information about this topic, please visit the Writing Centers at Colorado, Purdue, and Chapel Hill.