Editing for Concision and Clarity

Here’s an example of an exercise in editing. The Howe Writing Initiative revised the following “reaction paper,” written in an introductory core SBA course, to make it tighter and more readable. As you read the two versions, notice that we did NOT change the original meaning; but, with simple editing, we were able to convey the same meaning in just about half the words. In other words, the edited version more closely resembles the tight, concise writing that businesses value. (See “Writing for a Business Audience” and “Editing for Clarity and Style” handouts on the HWI website)

Why edit?

Since brevity is a core value in business writing, learning to edit your prose is a valuable skill. Besides, once you’ve learned to edit, you might realize that you haven’t delivered as much information or insight as you thought!

What is editing?

It’s the last step in composing. Editing does not intend to revise the original meaning substantially, but to make the prose as clear and effective as possible. It’s easy once you get the hang of it, but it takes practice. Please note the following strategies we used in editing this reaction paper: 

Changing “to be verbs” (is, are, was, were, am, being, been) to strong, active verbs. 

Eliminating repetition and cutting unnecessary words

Cutting strings of prepositional phrases

Howe Writing Initiative ‧ Farmer School of Business ‧ Miami University

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