Editing for Economy
Editing for economy means eliminating words that don’t add anything to the meaning of a piece of writing. It is quite eye opening to see just how many words you can remove without affecting the purpose of your blog, article, or eBook. In most cases, editing for economy actually improves a piece of writing overall, by letting readers get to the point easier.
For content writers and the businesses that employ them, every word counts. While economy in other forms of writing means getting the most meaning out of the least amount of words, for us it literally relates to cost, as the name implies. Content writing usually comes down to numbers of words or pages, so eliminating “deadwood” in our writing is definitely an economically beneficial process. A few easy-to-use techniques can help content writers get the most out of their writing.
English speakers’ tendency to double up on phrases in order to sound more professional or intellectual actually has an interesting source in history. Back in the eleventh century, when the ancient French overtook Britain, the languages of the two nations blended to create a substantial part of the English we speak today. At the time, the new blended language became the language of choice for the upper class, and writers attempted to use doublets of English and French words to sound more educated.
The doublets were phrases that included both an English and French word of the same meaning, so people of either nationality could understand important documents. Some such instances of doubling that are still very popular today include null and void, law and order, and cease and desist. Because it is commonplace now, it is hard to realize that these phrases are three words saying one thing. To get to the point, try one of the words or a synonym that captures the meaning of the phrase. For example, null and void simply means invalid.
Along with the specific examples of French-English doubling, another issue is simple redundancy. Often times, we use more words than necessary to express an idea. “Absolutely essential”, “whether or not”, and “social visit” are all examples of pleonasms, or redundancy. In the given examples, “essential”, “whether”, and “visit” express the idea just fine without accompaniment.
Choose Specific Words Over Abstract Words
Another common thing writers do is pair their specific words with general or abstract ones, or pair a specific word with its vaguer category. Examples of this include:
- The month of June (month is general, June is specific)
- Upright position (upright is specific, position is general)
- In the year of 1973 (year is general, 1973 is specific)
- The shirt was black in color (black is specific, color is general)
Instances of this type of unnecessary plugging are easy to eliminate to improve economy.
Use Vertical Lists to Minimize Repetition
Sometimes, we need to cut repeating words or phrases to increase economy. Imagine a blog detailing the benefits of an item called the High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine:
“Our High-Tech Glass Cleaning Machine is the number one machine of its kind on …read more
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