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Make Your Copy Trim and Sleek
Cut the fat for better sizzle.
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by Kelle Campbell

Warning! -- sloppy prose ahead:

"On occasions when specialized personnel or additional personnel are needed to meet a tight schedule requirements, we can draw upon the resources of two other offices for assistance."Cleaver

If you've ever written something like this, you've been the victim of wordiness, the fat on your copy's bones.

The example above was taken from a proposal. The writer could have trimmed the text to this: "Our two branch offices can provide expert assistance that will keep your project on target and on deadline." This version is leaner, cleaner and has a lot more impact.

Why does wordiness happen? Usually the writer:

  • wants to sound sophisticated or formal
  • is nervous or unsure about the clarity of the message
  • has not reviewed the work for redundancies
  • becomes attached to particular phrases
  • has added padding to make the work appear impressive or substantial

The three word-trimming routines below can help you cut the flab.

1. Crunch That Padding

As you read through your work, mentally eliminate words and phrases. If the piece reads well without the extra language, delete the surplus or rephrase your writing. For example, "Due to the fact that we have met our revenue goals" can be trimmed to "since we have met our revenue goals."

2. Keep your Focus Tight

If you're writing about widgets, concentrate on widgets. It may be tempting to throw in your latest achievement or your entire range of products and services, but if it doesn't support the theme, resist.

3. Cut Back on Modifiers

Strong nouns and verbs work better than adjectives and adverbs. Of course, modifiers are an essential part of the language, but relying on them to put the vigor in your message results in weaker text. "Our new state-of-the-art widget is exceptionally efficient, working more swiftly than any other model on the market" is not as striking as  "our new LX5 widget handles projects five times faster than the OP4, the current market favorite."

A few extra words in a sentence may seem like no big deal, but when the most of the sentences or paragraphs have "a little extra," it slows the pace of your writing and buries your message. Don't make readers search your text to find the substance. Cut through the excess for sleek text that holds attention and enthusiasm.

Kelle Campbell is a freelance public relations and marketing writer. 
Visit her Web site at or contact her at

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