We focus on pronouns, fluff writing, and wordiness.
1. Pronouns. As you know, in academic writing, it is usually recommended to avoid first-person pronouns (I, we) and second-person pronouns (you) in order to keep the writing style formal and objective.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule and things to keep in mind while choosing the style of writing:
– First, look through the instructions. If the instructions specify that personal pronouns can be used, follow what the instructions say.
– Check if your customer provided you with any sample papers or their previous works that may guide your choice of writing style.
– Pay attention to the type and nature of assignment where using first and second person pronouns is appropriate. Examples of such assignments can be reflective essays, memos, or peer post responses.
2. Fluff in writing. Fluff refers to any information that does not add any value to a piece and only exists just to pad the word count. Fluff includes generalities, empty clichés, irrelevant facts, and off-topic information that negatively affect readability, the structure of your text, and the effectiveness of your argument.
Here are a few examples of “fluffy” sentences that have no substance:
– “This is a crucial aspect of the topic that may lead to a negative outcome if not studied thoroughly, and therefore action must be taken to mitigate the risks.”
– “As we have discussed in the previous paragraphs, electronic health records are important in the modern healthcare system due to their numerous benefits, and in this paragraph, I would like to focus on the disadvantages of using them in a healthcare setting.”
If you remember, last week Teresa Kaufmann also emphasized the importance of avoiding clichés and the obvious in academic writing in order to maintain clarity and originality of expression. Today I would like to suggest a few strategies to eliminate clichés, generalities, uncertainties, irrelevant facts — basically any redundant information that weakens your argument:
– Research your topic thoroughly so that you have enough important information to discuss in your paper. When there is a lot of fluff in an essay, it’s obvious that the writer either has not researched the topic well enough or does not understand it fully.
– Outline your essay prior to writing it to make sure you have enough space to discuss all the relevant points in well-structured paragraphs.
– Avoid overly-general information and the obvious. Examples of obvious and redundant information are definitions of well-known terms.
– Add specifics, such as examples and evidence from credible sources, to convey your point more clearly.
– Reread your essay once it’s finished to make sure there are no parts with off-topic information that add no value to your discussion.
3. Verbose writing and wordiness. Verbose writing is closely related to fluff as it refers to writing that is overly wordy and does not contain much substance. Writers sometimes purposefully throw more unnecessary words and use inflated language to reach the word count faster and make their text sound more academic. However, upon a close reading of such texts, it becomes obvious that the level of analysis is superficial and that the writer has not developed their argument effectively.
Here are a few strategies to reduce wordiness and verbosity in writing:
– Cut down on filler words and phrases. Examples: actually, it is commonly believed that, due to the fact that…
– Take out words and phrases that are repeated unnecessarily or provide excessive detail.
– Don’t add too many parenthetical phrases with redundant information.
– Reword sentences beginning with There is… or This is because…
– Use active voice rather than passive voice verbs.