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Posts Tagged ‘wordiness’

While I’m on the topic of parallelism, the APA manual instructs that “elements in a series should also be in parallel form” (p. 60, 2.11). This is an excellent rule no matter the style to which you are adhering; it helps clarify your meaning for the reader and it usually prevents wordiness.

For example, the incorrect way one might write a series: “The students preparing to take the SAT were asked to sit quietly between tests, to read all instructions carefully, and that they should raise their hand if they needed help with anything during the test.”

And the correct way: “The students preparing to take the SAT were asked to sit quietly between tests, to read all instructions carefully, and to raise their hand if they needed help with anything during the test.”

By removing “that they should” and replacing it with a third “to,” we adhere to parallelism and clean the sentence up a bit.

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All good writers should review their work at least once (preferably several times), even if they plan to have an editor look it over. One thing you can look for when reviewing your work is wordiness. In work meant strictly for an academic setting (your psychology course paper), it’s not as much of a problem; however, in scholarly papers, especially those submitted to journals for publication, wordiness is the bane of the editor.  

For example, I strongly recommend finding and deleting the phrase “in order” as it is completely unnecessary and only causes the reader to work harder for the same meaning. For example, a sentence such as, “The researcher used Chronbach’s alpha in order to assess the probability of a Type I error” reads much more fluidly by removing the extraneous words in question.

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