How to Shorten an Essay: Effective Tips to Trim Your Article
At times, essay writing might be challenging, especially when there’s a strict word count that you can’t exceed. Sometimes, you may write too much and exceed the specified word limits. So, how do you shorten that essay without losing any important points or compromising its quality? We’ve compiled practical tips and techniques on how to shorten an essay effectively.
Reassess the Rubric
A marking criterion is a standard of judgment used when grading assignments. Also known as a rubric, it states everything the instructors will pay attention to when grading your composition, including the word count.
However, there are instances where you won’t have a rubric to refer to and will have to rely on your understanding of the assignment question not to exceed the word limit. So, how do you use your rubric or essay question to shorten an essay to the stipulated word count?
Review every paragraph and ask yourself, “Is this paragraph answering my essay question? Or is it within the grading criteria?” If it doesn’t help answer your question, remove it to get closer to the required word count.
Eliminate Two to Three of Your Weak Paragraphs
When your paper exceeds the instructed word count, one of the safest ways to shorten it involves identifying any weak paragraphs. You’ll likely find one or two poor paragraphs that don’t add any importance to your essay; take them out to shorten the article. You’ll be doing yourself a favor, especially if you’re writing a college application essay.
This approach works best when you have exceeded the word limit by a few hundred words. Eliminating all your poor paragraphs makes the essay shorter and ensures it has no purposeless sections. It will only leave you with the best paragraphs to submit, keeping the reader engaged and interested.
How do you identify the poorly-written paragraphs in a college essay without relying on EssayWriter for help? First, look for paragraphs that contain the worst references. Teachers sometimes just scan essay paragraphs to determine the quality of references within them. Poorly referenced paragraphs tend to have the following:
- Few references
- Excess references from one source
- References from non-reputable sources
The lecturer will mark down any of the above paragraphs. So you are better off removing them to shorten the article, fulfill the essay’s word count, and protect your grade.
Next, find unconvincing paragraphs. Review each paragraph and ask yourself, “How strong is my assertion here?” The paragraphs with the weakest arguments don’t benefit your essay. So take them out and make your essay shorter.
If you’re finding it difficult to pinpoint poorly done paragraphs, try rating all paragraphs. Because of the writer’s bias, sometimes identifying your weakest or worst paragraphs might be difficult. That’s when you have to rate each one. Rate all your paragraphs on a scale of one to ten; you’ll find the ones to get rid of to shorten the composition and meet the stipulated word count.
Understand that you don’t always need to delete entire paragraphs to shorten your article. For example, sometimes you might realize that the information in three different paragraphs could fit into one. So trim and combine them to shorten what you discussed in them. Using this method ensures you don’t risk losing any important information, and you still get to reduce your word count considerably.
Use Text to Speech to Listen to Your Essay
Listening to the narration of your essay is also a great way to identify areas you can comfortably trim to shorten the piece. There are two ways to do it. The first technique is to copy your entire essay, open Microsoft excel, and paste it into one cell. Then activate the read-out-loud option.
The second approach applies to Google users. Copy the text, open your browser, and query “google translate.” Then, paste the contents into the text box and click listen.
Listen and pay attention to the following to get clues on how you’ll shorten the piece:
- Sentences that feel long and exhausting – rephrase them and write short sentences.
- Awkward phrases – erase phrases that don’t sound right.
- Unnecessary words – eliminate needless words such as “the” and “that” where they don’t add value.
While listening, also ensure your essay retains its main focus. Writers tend to stray when composing college essays, especially if they don’t use an outline. So, if you realize your work has strayed from the main focus, eliminate the section that deviates from your topic to shorten the article and make it strong.
Lastly, pause and eliminate unwanted or repetitive phrases to shorten your sentences. Your essay should be short and clear, so find ways to explain the concepts in the least words.
More Tips to Shorten Your Composition
Cutting down your draft is not as easy as it may seem, and you might need to apply different tools to achieve the desired length. For example, never exceed the word limit in a college application essay because admissions officers might use it to disqualify you even before reading it.
That’s why we give you a wide selection of tools you can use to shorten essays and achieve the desired word limits. These techniques should work across different forms of writing. So a book report writer should experience the same success as a student crafting essays in college. Other methods of making an essay shorter include the following.
Eliminate Adverbs and Adjectives
Adverbs and adjectives are rarely needed in good writing. Adjectives modify nouns, but you’ll realize you don’t need them if you choose the right nouns. The same applies to adverbs modifying verbs. An essay filled with either becomes weaker, and removing them will make your writing concise and more likely to stay within any word limits. Furthermore, teaching yourself to choose the right nouns should improve your essay-writing skills in the long run.
Shorten Wordy Phrases
Another way to shorten an essay is to identify and trim long phrases. For example, “in order to” or “so as to” can become “to,” and “on a regular basis” can be “regularly.” You can do it manually or use grammar tools to suggest shorter ways to phrase your sentences without affecting the clarity.
Switch to Active Voice
Like most writers, you’ve probably habitually used passive voice in essays. However, if you’re in college or heading to college, start adopting the active voice in academic writing, as it’ll give your papers a more scholarly tone. Here’re some sentences to show the difference between the two.
“The task was assigned by the professor.”
“The professor assigned the task.”
In the first sentence, the object (the task) foregrounds the subject (the professor), making it a passive voice. In the second sentence, the subject is performing an action making it active. As you can see, it is shorter and more direct, and that’s what you should aim for when you want to shorten essays. So, go through your composition, identify sentences similar to the former, and rephrase them in active voice.
Fix Any Running Starts
A running start is any sentence starting with a phrase that doesn’t add useful information. Running starts are easy to remove without affecting the general meaning of the sentence in a college essay. Compare the following sentences:
“It is no secret that the world is currently going through tough times.”
“The world is currently going through tough times.”
Both sentences have the same meaning, but we eliminated the needless words in the second one. Running starts make an essay less direct and, thus, less engaging. So shorten your essay by eliminating them.
Join Sentences That Convey Similar Meanings
As you go through your college essay, you’ll likely find sentences that share the same meaning. Merge such sentences into one to shorten the message. Check out this example:
“Some students were caught playing cards in class. Peter was playing cards with them.”
“Peter was caught playing cards with other children in the class.”
These two sentences are a simple example of merging two sentences and still conveying the full message. The second sentence uses a lesser word count to deliver the message the first two sentences provide. Switch to active voice, and you’ll have an even shorter sentence.
Listen to Your Essay to Identify and Eliminate Repetition
We mentioned using google translate or excel sheets to listen to your essay. You can also read it aloud and try to identify redundancy in work. Any college essay that exceeds the word limit is prone to having a few instances of redundancy.
Sometimes we over-explain our points and use extra sentences without realizing the initial sentence was enough. These instances are easy to identify in an essay. But if you struggle, remember that essaywriter.org is always available to assist.
Reducing a paper’s word count can be disheartening when writing essays, but adding words to meet the minimum volume is much easier than the reverse. So, consider yourself lucky and use the above tricks to shorten an essay while boosting its quality.
Leave a Comment