Think of writing, especially academic writing, as a building. You have the blueprint (outline), the foundation, frame, and scaffolding, essential building materials, and then when it’s all built and done, the frilly additions like various kinds of shutters, trim, and assorted extras. In writing, you don’t need the fancy decorative trim. Think of writing as minimalist architecture. Clear, concise writing that isn’t bogged down with extras not only makes it easier for your audience to understand, but is also actually harder to do than flowery prose.
Here are some tips for decluttering your writing and cleaning up your text.
- When you reread your writing, bracket words that aren’t necessary. You’ll be surprised to see how much you can cut, and how crisp your writing will be once you eliminate the excess. Get rid of multiple words when one will suffice. If you don’t fully understand a subject or concept, it’s harder to write concisely about it, so be mindful of this and take the time to learn the ins and outs of your topic.
- Beware of adverbs and qualifiers. Many aren’t necessary, and they only clutter your writing and add redundancy. If you bracket unnecessary words when revising and rereading your writing, you may find a majority are adverbs (like “laughed happily.”) Qualifiers include “a bit,” “in a way,” and so forth. Not only are these unnecessary, but they also weaken your statements and diminish professionalism.
- Get rid of passive voice! This is one of the most common issues we see in academic writing, and your professors will likely comment on it as well. It’s not WRONG, per se, but it typically adds too many words and muddles writing that could be made more direct if changed.
- Shorten sentences. We’re not talking about run-on sentences, but very long sentences that have multiple ideas in them can often be separated into two, more concise sentences. This also helps to clarify the writing.
- Hire an editor! That’s what we’re here for.
Writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, and academic writing can be difficult. Hiring an objective editor can help you identify your strengths and challenges, assist you in clarifying what you want to say, and help you move forward with the feedback your readers and committee have given you. When you’re too close to the writing, it’s easy to overlook things that an outside professional can identify. Even friends who are editors may not be able to provide you with the objective perspective necessary.
Dissertation Editor has a team of expert editors ready to help you get to where you need to be. We offer a range of services, including consultation, multiple levels of editing, and formatting to assist you with whatever your project might be. Contact us today to learn more!
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