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Recommendations on How to Shorten an Essay

Written by Jimmy Rustling

Our submission highlights the tips you could borrow to create the perfect combination to make your essay shorter. They guarantee to retain the intent of your writing but with a lesser word count. These tips will also serve the purpose of different academic papers.

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You must focus on five essential tips to shorten an entire essay without distorting its meaning. Remember, an academic essay has three main parts, a structured introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The structure will vary depending on the type of writing you are handling. The coherence of the structure and the content of your paper will determine your overall delivery of the essay.

Cross-Check the Marking Criteria

Before taking the bull by the horns, it is paramount to review the marking criteria to pinpoint what your tutor expects from you. The marking tips will serve as the compass and guide you through the writing process. It will also determine how much time you will spend on specific sections while highlighting those that carry the most weight.

After going through the checklist, tackle the writing in sections. First is the thesis statement. A strong thesis statement should be the foundation of your paper. You should be able to provide arguments to back up the thesis statement and convince your reader that your concept is correct. So, ensure your thesis statement does not contain other unnecessary words that might detract from its intended meaning.

Read the Essay Out Loud

If you are unsure what to delete, consider reading the essay aloud. Doing this will help you keep up with your train of thought while delivering your ideas and pinpointing repetitive phrases. It will also help you keep up with the pace of the writing and establish the areas that need restructuring and correcting.

Take Notes

Taking notes while reviewing the writing is a genius way of evaluating the strength of your arguments and showing how you have defended them. It is also a wise tip to keep up with any new ideas that might cross your mind as you read your paper out loud.

Omit the Three Worst Paragraphs

Any academic writing requires you to give your best, and the perfect academic paper has clearly communicated arguments. So, while putting across your views, arrange them in order depending on the weight they carry. To assess the best and worst paragraphs, use these tips as your checklist:

Rank Your Arguments

Establish the least persuasive paragraph by evaluating your argument’s strength and how well you have outlined it. Paragraphs whose arguments cannot be quantified might not add weight to your thesis statement. However, your paper would score better if you omitted them.

Establish the least or worst referenced paragraphs and omit them. Remember, referencing contributes significantly to your overall score. Therefore, entire paragraphs with minimal or excess referencing to non-academic sources carry a little depth of information. Therefore, your essay does not need them; they will degrade your score. They will also deter you from sticking to the required word count.

Use a Machine Translation Service to Listen to Weaknesses in Your Essay

Reading through your article might not capture the defects in your writing. But, hearing your paper from a third party’s perspective helps you establish what sections you should remove. For instance, Microsoft Excel and Google Translate have read-out-loud options for this. Of the two, Google Translate is the simplest option to use.

Google Translate is a machine translation service developed by Google, and it is accessible on your search engine. Utilize it by copying and pasting text into the translate box and clicking the ‘listen’ button. You will notice sentences that sound incoherent as it reads through your college application essay.

The Microsoft Excel option is complicated. You must copy the whole text, paste it into a cell, and activate the read-out-loud command. It might be challenging if you are not conversant with Microsoft Excel.

These options will point out issues such as very long sentences. They will also point out the tone of your college application essay and what you need to change.

More Reliable Tips to Shorten Your Paper

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Meanwhile, consider these tips if you need more than the tricks highlighted to reduce the word count of your essay. They will not distort the intent of your content. Neither will they affect your style of delivery.

Omit Irrelevant Adverbs and Adjectives

Academic papers have a different tone of delivery. Furnishing your writing with adjectives and adverbs makes the contents of your essay watery. Even though adjectives modify nouns, sometimes you do not need them. So, consider omitting unnecessary adverbs and adjectives from your paper. You will be surprised by how much you will save if you are disciplined enough to stick to the word limits.

Shorten Wordy Phrases

Expressing your creativity using phrasal verbs might sound cool, but not this easy. Reduce your essay’s word count by omitting wordy phrases. It significantly reduces the word count in your paper. It also helps in the delivery of your ideas. Remember, wordy sentences will likely dilute the meaning of the concept you are putting across. Also, going for an idea to write short sentences may help you communicate clearly and stick to the set word limits in writing essays.

Prefer to Write in Active Voice

Writing in active voice makes it easier for the reader to comprehend your message accurately, considering people mostly speak in active voice. Therefore, writing in active voice is more efficient than writing in passive voice. Another reason writing in an active voice will help reduce the word count of your college essay is that writing in an active voice uses fewer words.

Rewrite the Linking Words and Phrases

Another tip to reduce the word count of your college essay is to paraphrase running stars. In most instances, you might realize that you start your paragraph or sentences using words such as “the fact that, it is, and there are.” These phrases often sound cliché. Instead, consider replacing them by introducing your arguments confidently.

If your essay exceeds the stipulated word limit, consider replacing and rewriting these running starts. In the same breath, if you realize you have unnecessary conjunctions and transitions, consider omitting them. Even though it might sound like a good idea to retain them, flooding your essay with them waters down the delivery of the concept in the paper.

Unite the Sentences That Have the Same Meanings

Rumbling in your essay symbolizes your lack of confidence in delivering points and ideas. So, if you have more than one sentence communicating the same concept or argument, delete it. Instead, stick to the word limit by furnishing your paragraphs with statistics and references to support your points.

You could also combine two paragraphs into one. If you like a sentence in a paragraph and feel the rest of the section is watering it down, consider repositioning it. This point requires you to be brutally honest with yourself by rating the paragraph out of 10 and ensuring that the information in the new paragraph is coherent.

Try to Feel Your Essay

After considering all the options mentioned above to reduce the word count in your college essay, the final step is listening to your essay. It is a vital step in determining whether your paper meets its intent. It also evaluates if your tone of delivery is consistent throughout the writing.

When listening to your essay, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Does the article answer the argument presented in the thesis statement?
  • Do I have strong views outlined in the essay’s body?
  • Are my ideas chronologically arranged from the strongest to the weakest?
  • Are my citations and references perfectly done?
  • Does this paragraph directly answer the college essay question or marking criteria?
  • Does this paragraph add new information that helps me answer the essay question?
  • Did I go off the tangent while explaining your points?
  • Does my college essay conform with the tutor’s work?

Take-Away Points

One of the biggest challenges most students face is sticking to the stipulated word count as advised by the tutor. In most cases, it is a battle between deleting information that could be relevant to the essay. If you face this challenge, consider the cocktail of tips provided above to fix it.

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Being a student does not have to be daunting when you have such services. Remember, the goal is to score highly in class, and if you are doubtful about your essay writing skills and how to shorten an essay, these tips serve as a reference point.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.