Concise writing

When writing your manuscript, be as brief as possible without omitting essential details. A common mistake that authors make is trying to include too much information in their sentences. When sentences are long, most readers will have to read the sentence at least twice to understand the presented ideas.

Your readers, like you, are busy and want to find the relevant information quickly and efficiently. To improve the readability of your writing, use short sentences. This can be achieved by presenting only one idea per sentence and limiting the sentence length to a maximum of 20–25 words.

Keep it simple! Simple language is usually clearer; it is more precise and concise than complex language. Many authors incorrectly assume that they should use complicated language as they are often describing something that is sophisticated, when in fact it can confuse the reader and weaken your message.

You can keep your manuscript concise and precise by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Only one idea per sentence
  • Use the active voice, not the passive voice, when possible
  • Delete unnecessary or vague words and replace them with more specific words


BAD: The company that economists considered to be a model of modern employee conditions was Shravers Publishing, which was established as a subsidiary of the Shravers Educational Group by Dr John Mitchems in 1923.

GOOD: Economists considered Shravers Publishing to be a model of modern employee conditions. Dr John Mitchems established this company as a subsidiary of the Shravers Education Group in 1923.

By presenting one idea per sentence, you can reduce the first long sentence (33 words) to two shorter and clearer sentences (12 and 16 words, respectively).

TIP: The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a fantastic writing resource and has many more examples of how to make your writing concise. Purdue Online Writing Lab.