Effective Editing Techniques That Work
Written by
Marcia Riley
August 2015
Written by
Marcia Riley
August 2015

Natalie looked at the long-winded sentences throughout her document and wondered, “How can I make my writing more concise?  Reduce these sentences so that readers don’t get confused understanding my message?”  To resolve her dilemma, Natalie sought advice from those who write like a pro and here’s what she discovered.


Though sentence length is a matter of style, good writing contains various sentence lengths: some short, some medium and some long.  Nonfiction writers do not always have the flexibility as creative fiction writers when it comes to sentence length.  Therefore, a few tips and techniques for reducing sentences that achieve clear and concise documents should be considered by writers.  Why?


Though appropriate at times, lengthy sentences containing more words than necessary can produce 5-D readers: Distracted, Disinterested, Disengaged, Disenchanted and Discouraged.  Writers who clutter sentences and paragraphs with unnecessary words, phrases and expressions needlessly distract readers.  Whereas, consistently eliminating wordiness results in stronger, more concise writing that’s easier to read and interpret.


An effective editing technique that helps eliminate wordiness is sliding.  This technique can be done manually or electronically.  To review this time-saving strategy, go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5_wRK8BfdzobE399SIMLXw The written material in this short demonstration is presented in eight languages.  Whether a beginner or veteran writer, once you see these techniques, you’ll never look at your writing in the same way again…


In addition to the sliding technique, consider these three tips when faced with wordy sentences:

  1. Avoid the passive voice when it’s not necessary

  2. Eliminate needless repetition

  3. Reduce lengthy phrases and clauses


Another editing aide for those wanting to reduce word clutter is on Georgia State University’s website.  This site presents ten lessons and a self-test. The lessons enable you to identify and correct wordiness (http://www2.gsu.edu/~accerl/wordiness/WO.html).


After consistently practicing these tips and techniques, Natalie’s documents began to “soar on the wings of words.”  She confidently submitted her nonfiction book and eagerly awaits a positive response from the publisher.  After all, Natalie is now following Hans Hofman’s advice for writers - “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” 

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