Summer ready: How to trim the fat

Muscles

Summer is in full swing, which means so are summer diets. Everyone is working to be beach-body ready, researching and trying new ways to get trim and slim.

Well, look no farther. The PDC editors are here to help, with the top five ways to trim fat … from your writing.

Gotcha

1. Set goals

Buying the smaller-size dress or hanging up the two-piece bathing suit won’t help your writing, but setting writing goals is important, too. For example, we recommend an executive summary be between one and three pages (in Microsoft Word). If you keep this target in mind when you write, you’ll be inclined to stay within these designated parameters. And even if you miss it by a sentence or two (or a page, let’s be honest), at least you’re closer to meeting the goal than you were before it was set.

2. Stay focused

In diets and writing, you gotta have your game face on. As per the first tip, you have goals you are trying to reach, and you need to stay on task to do so. To stay focused, keep track of the specific topics you need to cover; this will limit your talking points and keep you from going off the rails.

3. Avoid empty phrases

Phrases like “As a matter of a fact” and “For all intents and purposes” are fillers that take up space but mean nothing. They are the empty calories of the writing world, and easy to skip. Save your words for the meat of the matter.

4. Replace wordy phrases

Like empty phrases, needlessly wordy phrases should also be nixed from your writing. Why write “in order to” when “to” works fine? “The reason for that” is just a long way of saying “because.” Cut the fat, and get to your point.

5. Edit, edit edit

Diets don’t work overnight. They take time, and adjustments. When you’re reading over your writing, check that everything supports your goals and your focus. If not, remove it. As we say here at the PDC, “If it’s not helping you, it’s hurting you.” That applies to candy bars and words/paragraphs no one asked for.


There you have it. Our top five tips, brought to you clearly and concisely. But, if you wished it was longer and/or you want more details, click this link for a helpful handout featuring more information on how to improve clarity and cut clutter from your writing.


Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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