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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.1.3


Learn the strategies of conciseness. Conciseness has a special value in technical fields. Writers are often tempted to include everything that could be relevant to their subject, rather than merely everything that is relevant to the communication task at hand. The concise document is a piece of writing that conveys only the needed material.

At the level of the whole document, conciseness is helped most by focus, the narrowing of document scope to a manageable problem and response. Preparing a clear introduction and developing a detailed outline are two strategies that give you control over document length and scope. Identify and eliminate material that is not necessary to support your claims. Look for sections, including appendixes, that are not essential to your work. Graphics are powerful aids to conciseness because they cut down on the amount of prose necessary to describe objects and processes, summarize data, and demonstrate relationships.

Conciseness requires careful revising. Become familiar with the strategies for reducing wordiness. Look for ways of cutting useless words, sentences, and sections from the document.

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