Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Concise Papers: The Key to College Writing

Although college writing assignments are diverse, most professors and professionals appreciate concision. There are many ways to make sure that a paper is concise and to the point. Whenever editing a paper, checking for word repetitions and redundant phrases is a good place to start. By focusing on cohesion, your paper can be more persuasive and elegant instead of wordy and cluttered.

Wordy sentences might occur mostly during the first drafts because you’re trying to get your ideas on the page. For example, Jackie might repeat “painting” throughout her paper instead of explaining the art piece in detail. And Michelle who’s writing a lab report might repeat “experiment” in her drafts. In an English class, Megan might use “author” too often and neglect using the writer’s last name to switch up word choices.

Here’s an example:
"In the piece of art, the painter creates a gloomy feeling by using different colors. Blending the colors together makes the viewer of the art feel very gloomy. The colors are a mixture of black and white with some gray that give off the gloomy feeling that the painter is trying to show throughout his/her piece."

In this example, the writer of this paragraph uses gloomy three times, as well as the repetition of the word color. If the author of the paragraph wants the paragraph to read smoothly, she’ll need to cut repetitive words to appear more concise.

Redundant phrases can also be a problem when referencing similar information throughout a paper. Phrases such as “passive kind of behavior,” blue in color,” as well as “advance planning” are a few examples of how information presented in a sentence is stating the same information in different ways.

Repetitive information and redundant phrasing are only a few red flags to look for when trying to make your paper more concise. One strategy to help pull away from redundant phrasing and word repetition is simply reading your paper aloud. Reading your paper aloud can help you catch these glitches and also make sure you’re presenting clear and concise information.

Going through your paper backwards sentence by sentence can also help catch awkward phrasing and redundant word usage. Starting from the bottom of your paper, read each sentence from beginning to end like normal. Doing this takes each sentence out of context and helps concentrate on the wording of every sentence.

Making a paper more concise can not only help you become a better writer, but doing so also helps the reader understand your main points.

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