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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Economy of Words

An important task of an author is to check and double-check. That statement could apply to many aspects of the writing task, but the focus here is on unnecessary words.

A book I am currently reading includes this sentence: “The word Omega was taken from the Greek alphabet, which referred to the last and final letter of the Greek alphabet.” Two issues: first, the statement “the last and final letter” is unnecessarily saying the same thing twice. It would suffice to simply say “the last letter of the Greek alphabet.” This might seem like a small item . . . but extra words really add up over a hundred-thousand (or more) word manuscript. Plus, wordiness can easily become weariness.

The second issue is using “Greek alphabet” redundantly in the same sentence. It comes off as tiresome and unimaginative. The author could easily have written: “The word Omega refers to the last letter of the Greek alphabet.” Twelve words instead of twenty-one to communicate the thought.

Take it from one who historically has tended to use more vs. fewer words: fewer is better. Psychologists could probably provide plausible explanations, but verbosity subtly fatigues readers. It behooves an author to communicate thoughts clearly and with economy of words.

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