Editing Business Writing to Get Rid of Clutter

Editing business writing can make a big difference in communication effectively, with you clients, prospects, staff and others.

You might have seen the television programs showing extremely cluttered homes that are a result of hoarding. In a similar way, business writing can be full of clutter. Clichés, jargon, complicated words and phrases, and unnecessary words will muddle your business writing and make it difficult to read.

editing business writing

Follow these steps when editing your business writing to get rid of clutter, make it more readable and get the results you want.

1.    Remove clichés and overused terms when editing business writing.

Examples include:
·    At the end of the day
·    Back to the drawing board
·    Core values
·    The fact of the matter is
·    For all intents and purposes
·    On the back burner
·    Seriously consider
·    Up in the air
·    World’s best practice

2.    Replace complicated words with simple ones when possible when editing business writing.

Instead of: Write:
accomplish do
ascertain find out
dissmeminate send out
employ use
endeavour try
expedite hasten, speed up
facilitate make easier, help
facility building, warehouse
locality place
optimum best, greatest
utilise use
numerous many
substantiate prove


3. Remove unnecessary words when editing business writing.

Instead of: Write:
train up train
Monday through to Friday Monday through Friday
in three weeks’ time in three weeks
in close proximity to close to
up until until

4.    Replace phrases with single words when editing business writing.

Instead of: Write:
in regard to about
by means of by
in the event that if
until such time as until
at the same time as while
subsequent to after
it would appear that apparently
adequate number of enough
due to the fact that because

5.    Turn nouns into verbs when editing business writing.

‘The requirement of the department is that employees work seven and a half hours a day’

can be reduced to:

‘The department requires employees to work seven and a half hours a day.’

(From 16 words to 13 words.)
‘You will work on the establishment of goals for the hiring, training and promotion of designated group employees’

can be reduced to:

‘You will establish goals for hiring, training and promoting designated group employees.’

(From 18 words to 12 words.)

This also applies to what are called nominalised phrases.

Nominalised phrase Succinct revision
gave a report reported
made a decision decided
offered a suggestion suggested
resulted in an increase increased
issued an announcement announced
led to the destruction of destroyed

For more information on nominalisation go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalization

6.    Replace passive sentences with active ones when editing business writing.

Computer hardware is manufactured and distributed by us. (Passive voice)

We manufacture and distribute computer hardware. (Active voice)

The proposal was completed and submitted by the project manager. (Passive voice)

The project manager completed and submitted the proposal.  (Active voice)

Applying these editing tips to remove a few words here and there might not seem like much. But if you consistently do this when editing your business documents, you can de-clutter your business writing, make it easier to read and increase its effectiveness.