Omitting needless words

Academic and administrative texts are often characterized by verbiage—the use of more words than are needed to express an idea. Verbiage does nothing but hide the real message of the text under a load of needless words, frustrate and dispirit the reader, and weaken the credibility of the author.

synonym

By Marina Pantcheva

Verbiage is usually caused by two things: the use of needless words and the unnecessary repetition of (parts of the) meaning. For example, using it is often the case that  instead of often is verbiage caused by the use of needless words. The expression excessive verbiage is verbiage, too, because the word verbiage means ‘excessive use of words.’ Thus, excessive verbiage means ‘excessive excessive use of words,’ and part of the meaning is repeated.

The most notorious participant in verbose expressions is the word fact. It can nearly always be omitted.

despite the fact that

due to the fact that

given the fact that

in spite of the fact that

in the light of the fact that

in view of the fact that

owing to the fact that

regardless of the fact that

the fact that

to be aware of the fact that

to call someone’s attention to the fact

although

because

as, since

although

since, because

as, because

since, because

although

delete

to be aware that/to know that

to remind someone that/notify someone

Other empty words are matter, case, and majority. Sometimes, they are meaningful and hence cannot be eliminated, but often they are unnecessary for the understanding of the text.

if this is not the case

if this is the case

it is rarely the case that

if not

if so

rarely

as a matter of fact

the fact of the matter is

in fact

the fact is or omit the whole expression

in the majority of instances

the (vast) majority of

usually

most

Here is a list of verbose expressions commonly found in academic texts.

a certain number of

a larger/greater/higher degree of

a lesser/smaller degree of

a person who is xxx

along the lines of

at a later date

at the present time

begin to notice

by means of

by the same token

by virtue of

come to an abrupt end

conduct an investigation into

end result

few in number

first and foremost

for the purpose of

he is a man who

in a hasty manner

in order to

in the course of

in the event of

it is an aim of x to

on the grounds that

on the surface level

the intention of X is to

the manner in which

the question as to whether

the reason why is that

there is no doubt but that

this is a subject that

used for xxx purposes

whether or not

with the exception of

some

more

less/fewer

a(n) xxx person

like

later

currently, now

notice

by

similarly

by

end abruptly

investigate

use result unless there are intermediate results

few

first

to

he

hastily

to

during

if

x aims to

because

on the surface

X intends to

the way

whether

because

no doubt

this subject

used for xxx

whether

except

Verbosity also arises when authors use too many verb+nominalizations instead of the simple verb.

to be in conflict with

to be of the opinion that

to make an arrangement

to give consideration to

to carry out a review

to conduct an analysis

to perform an evaluation

to have an effect on

to make a resolution

to hold an investigation

perform an assessment

to effect a renewal of

to exhibit tendency to be

to conflict with

to believe

to arrange

to consider

to review

to analyze

to evaluate

to affect

to resolve

to investigate

to assess

to renew

to tend to

Finally, these are some examples of “excessive verbiage” — expressions where parts of the meaning are unnecessarily repeated.

basic fundamentals

big/small in size

compete with each other

equal to each other

exactly identical/the same

first priority

most important priority

free gift

inadvertent error

intertwined together

joint collaboration

lag behind

longer/shorter in length

mental attitude

merge together

mix together

mutual agreement

necessary prerequisite

reconsider again

scrutinize carefully

significant importance

summarize briefly

true fact

ultimate goal

unexpected surprise

various different

basics or fundamentals

big/small

compete

equal

identical/the same

priority

priority

gift

error

intertwined

collaboration

lag

longer/shorter

attitude

merge

mix

agreement

prerequisite

reconsider

scrutinize

importance or significance

summarize

fact

goal

surprise

various or different

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *