The Essentials of Writing

The Hamilton College Style Sheet

Essentials of English Usage

Wordiness ("w")

Avoid wordiness.

Be concise in your writing.  Wordiness can be difficult to spot on a page, but it becomes painfully apparent when you hear it.  Read your paper out loud.  If you find yourself completely tongue-tied or running out of breath between punctuation marks, the problem may be due to wordiness.  Be careful not to overwork there is, there are, it is, this is, and similar impersonal constructions.

1. There are many people today who believe that a college education is necessary for success.
[Better: Many people today believe that...]

2. Two important essentials are needed for success in college: determination and a North Face jacket.
[Of course essentials are both important and needed. What are neither important nor needed are the expressions important and are needed. Better: Two essentials for success in college are...]

3. The insatiable quest for God that humanity has has never been satisfied.
[Your spell-checker won't like this one either. Better: Humanity's quest for God has never been satisfied; or, Humanity has never satisfied its quest for God.]

For more information on wordiness, refer to The Third Deadly Sin: Wordiness

See also Jargon ("j") and Diction ("d") in this handbook.