Shortening a text, everyone has to deal with it. But writing succinctly is difficult. I think I’ve written ‘the fact that’ at least 1,000 times in my life, then deleted the phrase about 500 times. That I left it in half the cases makes me sad.
A sentence in which you use the construction ‘the fact that’ always becomes longer and more complicated than necessary, writes White, for example. I often come across this phrase in my early drafts of articles. This week, in an article on kidney transplants, I wrote the following sentence:
There are more of these superfluous, formal phrases that I often use thoughtlessly in early versions, such as ‘the reason is…’, ‘not for nothing’, or ‘in terms of’. I also sometimes see this kind of formulation in articles by other writers. Also check paraphrasingtool.site!
Shorten text: stay short and to the point
I suspect we all unconsciously use this kind of language to give sentences something weighty, perhaps to temper our own insecurity about our writing.
It is of course counterproductive. When you write ‘the fact that’, something doesn’t suddenly become a fact. Rather, it looks a bit forced and solemn. With phrases like “in terms of” and “the reason is,” you’re laboriously describing what you’re going to say later on. It’s tiring to read.
Not for nothing
Perfect example of a meaningless phrase. You’re trying to make up a sentence with literally ‘nothing’. I found this example on the website of a travel company, but I often deleted this phrase myself when I was working on the ‘shorten text’ part.
The reason for it
Often simply replaced by ‘because’. In a good sense everyone understands cause and effect. You don’t have to spell that out for your reader with separate phrases. So shorten!
There is no doubt that…
A cumbersome formulation. You create a complete phrase for something that you can also write in two words. What can I say in one word? Stay short and to the point!
There is no doubt that that bicycle was stolen.
That bike was definitely stolen.
That bike was undoubtedly stolen.
He is a man/woman who
Often used to outline the character of a character, but is tedious, because you create a dependent clause in a place where it is not necessary. You can shorten very easily.
She is a woman who knows how to tackle things: she milks the cows every morning.
She knows how to tackle things: she milks the cows every morning.
In terms of
Widely used, but is really just a solemn way of saying ‘in’. Short and to the point works better!
Children do not think in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Children do not think in ‘us’ and ‘them’.
A personal frustration probably has to do with my work as a science journalist. Only use ‘research shows’ if you also refer to the research in question sooner or later in the text, otherwise this phrase is nothing more than hot air.