Sometimes our writing is wordy because we use more sentences than we need to express our thoughts clearly. Because each sentence needs to contain certain types of words (e.g., nouns, verbs, and prepositions) to be grammatical, breaking up related ideas into multiple sentences can increase the overall length of a document. Let’s take a look at the following example:
- “Six participants tested the product. They ranged in age from 19 to 56 years.” (14 words)
These sentences express two main ideas: (1) the number of participants who tested the product and (2) the age of the participants. Together, these sentences contain 14 words. This works out to seven words per sentence, which doesn’t seem too bad, but we can do better. Take a look at this:
- “Six participants aged 19–56 years tested the product.” (8 words)
This single sentence conveys the same information as the original two sentences did; it tells us how many participants there were and how old they were. It also comes in at only eight words—six words shorter than the original sentences combined! Like we’ve mentioned in other posts, cutting a few words from a single sentence or pair of sentences may not seem like a big win. Across an entire document, though, these savings add up. Use this strategy along with others that we’ve suggested and you could find yourself shedding hundreds or even thousands of words from an essay or report. See below for more examples of how to combine sentences.
- “Anton is a pastry chef at a luxury hotel. The hotel is located in Florida.” (15 words)
- “Anton is a pastry chef at a luxury Florida hotel.” (10 words)
This example shows how you can combine three sentences into one:
- “The clients said that the app was easy to navigate. They also noted that it was useful. In addition, they mentioned that it was visually appealing.” (26 words)
- “The clients said that the app was useful, visually appealing, and easy to navigate.” (14 words)
This example shows how you can combine sentences and eliminate unnecessary words to reduce the overall word count:
- “Sophia is a senior accountant at Mighty Media. She is responsible for overseeing the work of four junior accountants at the company.” (22 words)
- “Sophia, a senior accountant at Mighty Media, oversees the work of four junior accountants.” (14 words)
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