Monday, January 20, 2014

More is Not Always Better


There are a lot of people who feel that using more words in a sentence makes them look smarter or more important. I don’t have statistics, but I don’t think hard research is necessary – you and I have both seen them, spoken with them, and worked with or for them.

A number of years ago, I worked for a person who felt it necessary to close business correspondence with something like this:

“If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at the number reflected below.”

I promptly changed the business letter template to read:

“Please contact me if you have any questions.”

Short, professional, and to the point.

Truth be told, in most instances that line isn’t even necessary. Believe me, if someone has a question, he or she will let you know! But since I wasn’t in charge, I had to make a few compromises to keep the peace.

In my experience, wordiness can be a sign of insecurity (“Hey! Look at me! I know lots and lots of words, and I can use them all!”) or simply inexperience as a writer. I’m guessing the following sentence fragment from an online story falls into the latter category:

“…police say there is not believed to be a threat to the community.”

How about: “…police believe there is no threat to the community.”

Or:  “…police say they believe there is no threat to the community.”

 Words. Use them wisely.

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