12 Top Tips to Decrease Manuscript Word Count
It’s incredible how we often end up writing a manuscript that seems never-ending with repetitive ideas spread across its extensive length. Do you find yourself in a bit of a sticky spot when asked to decrease your manuscript’s word count? Admittedly, it can be a downright tricky task to lower the word count. But the good news is you aren’t the only one facing this situation. This article will give you 12 top tips to decrease the word count in formal manuscripts to enhance their readability and flow.
Add Specific & Exact Actions
At first, this suggestion may appear contradictory. How can “adding” something lead to reduced word count? Intriguingly, in this scenario, it will.
Lengthier sentence: After watching every nominated film, the judges were required to select the film that deserved to win this year’s Oscar for the Best Picture. [24 words]
Rephrased sentence: Judges selected the film that deserved to win this year’s Oscar for the Best Picture after watching every nominated film. [20 words]
Every time you utilize the “ing” verb forms, you can remove one or more words.
Lengthier sentence: The merchant merely has to make the quality effect relatively excellent to recover the costliest possible price effect. [18 words]
Rephrased sentence: The merchant can recover the costliest possible price effect by significantly improving the quality effect. [15 words]
Replace lengthy phrases in the manuscript with abbreviations wherever feasible. Do not forget to write their full forms when you use them for the first time.
Lengthier sentence: To pre-empt the looming adversities due to rapid climate change, all the 195 countries must sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement before 2020 ends. [29 words]
Rephrased sentence: To pre-empt the looming adversities due to rapid climate change, all the 195 countries must sign the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement before 2020 ends. [23 words]
‘That’ is commonly overused in formal writing. Avoid it when you can.
Lengthier sentence: That the American football players often suffered head injuries were due to the highly physical nature of the sport. [19 words]
Rephrased sentence: American football players often suffered head injuries due to the highly physical nature of the sport. [16 words]
Remove “not only–but also”
At times, correlative conjunctions such as “not only…but also” can be revised using the coordinating conjunction “and.”
Lengthier sentence: In the study, we find proof that Homo sapiens created not only agriculture but also modern civilization. [17 words]
Rephrased sentence: In the study, we find proof that Homo sapiens created agriculture and modern civilization. [14 words]
The majority of the 21st century word-processing programs consider hyphenated words as “one word.” It’s advisable to utilize hyphenated words, whenever practicable.
Lengthier sentence: All the students who were 18 years of age were allowed to travel to California independently. [16 words]
Rephrased sentence: All the 18-year-old students were allowed to travel to California independently. [11 words]
Avoid “he or she” ‒ use the gender neutral “they” instead. In the same vein, use “individuals” or “people” and avoid “a person”.
Lengthier sentence: A person often points to Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical thought experiment, Schrödinger’s cat, when he or she has a discourse on quantum superposition. [22 words]
Rephrased sentence: People often point to Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical thought experiment, Schrödinger’s cat, when they have a discourse on quantum superposition. [19 words]
Fillers take up space & hinder the transfer of information. To lower the word count, fillers must be eliminated. Here are a few routinely occurring fillers in academic manuscripts:
- It has been reported that
- The fact that
- There is / There are
- It was observed/found that
Lengthier sentence: It has been reported that the occurrence of brain tumors is continually increasing in Poland, and there are several risk factors that have been recognized for the disease. [28 words]
Rephrased sentence: The occurrence of brain tumors is continually increasing in Poland, and several risk factors have been recognized for the disease. [20 words]
Often, you end up repeating information already displayed in tables & figures throughout your paper.
Lengthier sentence: The initial results of the vaccine’s efficacy showcase that 97.3% of the patients develop no adverse side effects. [18 words]
Rephrased sentence: The initial results of the vaccine’s efficacy are reported in Table 7. [12 words]
Nominalization means converting a verb into a noun. This simply makes your writing verbose and abstract without adding any substantial value.
Lengthier sentence: A diagnosis of Leukemia was conducted when a rise in tumor-specific biomarkers was reported. [14 words]
Rephrased sentence: Leukemia was diagnosed when tumor-specific biomarkers rose. [7 words]
Replace Multiple words with Single Words
You can replace “in spite of” with “despite”, or “a number of” with “numerous”.
Lengthier sentence: In spite of the rising global temperatures, most countries have a number of policies that do not prioritize the environment. [20 words]
Rephrased sentence: Despite the rising global temperatures, most countries have numerous policies that do not prioritize the environment. [16 words]
Use Active voice instead of Passive voice
Traditionally, the passive voice was used widely in academic writing – the majority of journals and funders now find active voice acceptable. Top journals such as Nature and Science now recommend the active voice.
Lengthier sentence: The employees are required by the organization to get six-sigma certification before working on an international project. [17 words]
Rephrased sentence: The organization requires employees to be six-sigma certified before working on an international project. [14 words]
After having read the 12 top tips carefully, you must feel a lot more confident about paring down the word count in your writing. Each time you comply with these tips, you will end up with a crisply written paper that will keep the reader engaged throughout.
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