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2 posts from September 2015

September 17, 2015

Principles of Writing: How to Avoid Wordiness

Chelsea blog 2
By Chelsea Lee Information filter

 A series on the principles of good scholarly writing.

Scholarly writing requires clear communication. 

To achieve this, writers must be concise—meaning they say only what needs to be said. When writers load sentences with extra verbiage or include asides that aren’t relevant to the argument, it’s called wordiness. Wordiness hurts communication because it forces readers to disentangle the useful parts of the writing from the unnecessary parts, which can slow down or even impede readers’ understanding. Your message will be lost if your writing is too wordy.

In this post I will discuss some practical strategies for reducing wordiness by highlighting several common wordy phrases and their alternatives.

  1. Phrases involving “the facts.” Examples: based on the fact that, due to the fact that, in spite of the fact that, because of the fact that, and so forth: 

    Any phrase that involves “the facts” is potentially wordy; instead, when possible, use because or although. Here are some examples: 
    • Wordy: Due to the fact that the measure was unavailable, I selected another.
    • Concise: Because the measure was unavailable, I selected another.

    • Wordy: In spite of the fact that half the participants dropped out the study, we still conducted Phase 2.
    • Concise: Although half the participants dropped out of the study, we still conducted Phase 2.
  1. Phrases involving “purpose” and “order.” Examples: for the purpose of, in order to, in order that, and so forth.

    Wordiness can creep in when you’re describing why something happened. Often phrases like for the purpose of can be eliminated, and others, like in order to, can be streamlined (in this case, to just to). Here are some examples:
    • Wordy: We administered surveys for the purpose of assessing motivation. 
    • Concise: We administered surveys to assess motivation.

    • Wordy: We designed the study in order to investigate different aspects of personality.
    • Concise: We designed the study to investigate different aspects of personality.
  1. Phrases involving “importance” and “interestingness.” Examples: it is important to note that, importantly, interestingly, it is interesting to note that, it is essential that, and so forth. 

    Leave things that aren’t important or interesting out of your paper. Write your sentences to highlight what is actually important or interesting—for example, begin by noting the result or the implication, not the fact that you are noting it. Also place an important concept at the beginning of a section or paragraph to draw more attention to it, rather than burying it. Here are some examples: 
    • Wordy: It is important to note that our study has implications for counseling practice.
    • Concise: Our study has important implications for counseling practice. 

    • Wordy: It is interesting to note that results diverged from the hypothesis.
    • Concise: Results diverged from the hypothesis. We found it interesting that…

These are just three examples of how writers can avoid wordiness in their scholarly writing. For more on this topic, see Publication Manual § 3.08 on Economy of Expression. If you have further questions about this topic, leave a comment below. 

September 01, 2015

Best of the APA Style Blog: 2015 Edition

Each fall the APA Style Blog Team puts together a “best of” feature, and this year we continue the tradition with an updated set of posts from the APA Style Blog and our parent site, apastyle.org. We hope it will be helpful as new batches of students set upon the task of learning and implementing APA Style. You can get the full story in our sixth edition Publication Manual (also available as an e-book for Kindle) and our APA Style Guide to Electronic References, plus more information via the links below.

Getting Started

What is APA Style?
Why is APA Style needed?
Basics of APA Style Tutorial (free)
FAQs about APA Style

Sample Papers

Sample Paper 1
Sample Paper 2
Sample meta-analysis paper
Sample published APA article

70869049-edit-smAPA Style Basics Principles

How in-text citations work
How reference list entries work
How to handle missing information
How to find the best example you need
   in the Publication Manual
"Cite what you see, cite what you use"

Grammar and spelling

Punctuation Junction (what happens when punctuation marks collide)
Use of first person
Spelling tips
Grammar tips

Student Resources

Citing a class or lecture
School intranet or Canvas/Blackboard class website materials
Classroom course packs and custom textbooks
Research participant interview data
Reference lists versus bibliographies
MLA versus APA Style (in-text citations and the reference list)
Student Research Webinars From APA and Psi Chi

References to Electronic Resources

Mobile apps
Website material (and multiple pages from the same website)
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) pages and posts
Online-only journal articles
YouTube videos

Other “How-To” Citation Help

Translated Sources (vs. your own translation)
Secondary sources (sources you found in another source) and why to avoid them
illustrators and illustrated Books
Legal references
Paraphrased work

Paper Formatting

Direct quotes and Block quotations
Lists (lettered, numbered, or bulleted)
Running heads

Keywords (vs. key terms)
Hyperlink formatting

Keep in Touch!

We hope that these resources will be helpful to you as you write using APA Style. If you are interested in receiving tips about APA Style as well as general writing advice, we encourage you to follow us on social media. You can find us (and tell your friends) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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