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How to Shorten an Essay – Steps with Examples

Published by at November 10th, 2021 , Revised On January 31, 2024

Do you need to shorten an essay because you stuffed it with too many unnecessary arguments and information? Did you use too many unwanted phrases to increase the wordiness? Worry not! This article provides the steps you need to shorten an essay and keep it focused.

With enhancing levels of education, the level of scrutiny also went up substantially. Teachers and graders do not appreciate wordy and lengthy essays that astray from topics or arguments. Deviation from the central argument can result in the deduction of marks and pose a neglectful impression of the author.

Essays make up a considerable part of academic curricula. The importance of essays keeps increasing with the increasing level of education. We now see students writing essays from kindergarten until graduation on several topics to showcase their knowledge on the subject.

By making logical and focused arguments in the essay, students can gain recognition by trying to persuade the audience with their writing skills.

To avoid losing marks, make sure to keep your essay captivating. Boring narratives can cause the readers to lose interest in your essay. So, it’s better to avoid using unrelated arguments to increase wordiness. Ideas that are not composed well will not get you the grades you desire.

The following recommendations will surely be helpful for you to shorten your essay and avoid the repercussions of a bland essay.

1. Your Essay Outline is the Key.

Before starting an essay, authors usually ponder about the essay and create a rough essay sketch in their minds. Creating a good outline is of fundamental importance. One must scribble down all the ideas and narratives that come to mind. The following steps involve research; the researched material must be penned alongside the initial outline.

Once you are done with the groundwork, the next step involves removing, rejecting, and crossing anything and everything that does not support the thesis statement. Almost every college, school, or application essay has a word limit. A good outline with to-the-point material can help you stick to the topic and create a concise, well-written essay.

2. Reduce Redundancy

Essays above the allowed word count limit are prone to mismanagement while writing. One such case is using redundant vocabulary while writing.

We are prone to overexplain a stance and forget that the sentence or word used previously offers enough explanation to the readers. There is no need to write an extra sentence. Reduce redundancy to make your writing appealing and concise. Let us consider the following example.

“Children were playing football in the park with the ball.”

The highlighted portion of the above sentence is unnecessary as football is played with the ball and, even if avoided, can provide enough knowledge about children’s activity. Scrapping the redundant phrase will remove four words from the sentence. This technique can be instrumental when shortening an essay before submission.

Also read: How to write an argumentative essay

3. Combine Sentences with Similar Meanings

Combining sentences that convey similar meanings can shorten the essay. This can be done by compressing similar sentences to eliminate undesirable words from the sentences. A little conscious effort can help you identify parts that can be merged, significantly reducing the word count. Consider the following example,

“Children were playing football in the park. My son was also playing football with them.”

“My son was playing football with the children in the park.”

The above two sentences reflect how you can compress different sentences together, and the new sentence delivers the same meaning but with a lesser word count. As in the example, the first sentence is composed of 15 words, whereas the combined sentence’s word count is 10. So, we can eliminate five words.

Extending this approach to seven to ten sentences can help us cut at least 50 words.

Also read: How to write a narrative essay

4. Avoid Overusing Prepositional Phrases.

Writing is an arduous task. A writer is prone to overuse wordy sentences repeatedly using prepositions. You will unconsciously increase the length of the sentence if you overuse prepositions. The example below will give you an idea of why you need to be vigilant about prepositions’ use.

“Here is the schedule of the work for today. (9 words)”

“Here is today’s work schedule. (5 Words)”

The first sentence uses several prepositions hence adding to the length, whereas the second sentence is concise and delivers the same message with increased efficiency. Review your essay for such errors before submission. You can quickly identify many instances where you can use relatively efficient sentences and avoid using excessive prepositions.

Reviewing requires a good focus. If you feel like you have done all you can, then you can seek help for your essay from your friend or tutor.

Also read: How to write a descriptive essay

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5. Using Concise Words

The English language is famous for its vast vocabulary. There are always words that you can use in place of wordy phrases. This practice will reduce the length and magnify the appeal of the essay. There are several dynamic words that you can use in place of wordy sentences.

The examples you are going to counter below can be used as a vanguard in your writing.

“It is raining very heavily (5 words)”

“It is pouring (3 words)”

Here, three words were alternated by a single word. The new sentence is concise, delivers the meaning with intensity, and supplements more appeal to the phrase. Similarly,

“He was very afraid. (4 words)”

“It is pouring (3 words)”

This approach will not only make help you shorten your essay but also reduce verbosity.

Also read: How to write an SAT essay

6. Get Rid of Anything That Doesn’t Add Value.

Review your essay by keeping the central argument or topic in focus. If you find any points that do not add value to your main argument or are irrelevant to the main idea, it is advisable to omit those sentences from the essay to shorten the essay’s length.

Most students are used to over-expanding ideas by adding details. However, it would be best to abide by the word limit set by your college or school. If you are struggling to improve your essay, you can get professional help from our essay experts.

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Frequently Asked Questions

To shorten an essay, start by removing unnecessary words, phrases, or sentences that do not contribute to the main message. Ensure each paragraph serves a clear purpose and eliminate repetitive information. Use concise language, combine or rephrase sentences, and focus on the most relevant points while maintaining coherence and clarity.

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