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Draw people in with concise copy

Your audience places a high value on their time. Maximizing how you use language enables them to understand the message more clearly in a format more pleasing to their time demands.

Don't get caught up in trying to get the words exactly right in the first draft. It's best to write what you're thinking, then to go back and look for ways to tighten your language. Consider reviewing the draft several times, using a different language or grammar tip for each read. For example, insert active instead of passive verbs. Identify whether an action verb makes better sense, giving more power to the sentence. Edit redundancies so you don't repeat your idea or words.

The following sentences appeared in United Methodist church bulletins (names have been changed). Let's see how editing can help them:

"The flowers on the altar this morning are given by Daniel and Judy Rutledge in celebration of their 23rd wedding anniversary. Daniel and Judy were married on July 5, 1986."

"Daniel and Judy Rutledge, married July 5, 1986, provided this morning's altar flowers to celebrate their 23rd anniversary."

Lessons learned:
Word count reduction: One-third (30 to 18)
Active voice: Daniel and Judy perform the "giving" rather than having the "giving" done to the flowers.
Redundancy elimination: "Wedding" isn't needed when referring to "anniversary." When a couple and an anniversary are mentioned, the assumption is wedding. In this case, the editor incorporated the wedding date into the sentence, clarifying for anyone who was still confused. Referring to "Daniel and Judy" twice in the same message is not necessary.

Stephen Ministry is a ministry within our congregation in which trained/supervised laypersons, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties. This ministry is very confidential. If you are in need of a Stephen Minister, contact Pastor Nancy Loy at (555) 555-5555.

Stephen Ministry allows our congregation's trained/supervised laypersons to provide confidential, Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties. If you need a Stephen Minister, contact Pastor Nancy Loy, (555) 555-5555.

Lessons learned:
Word count: 47 to 31
Active voice: "is" becomes "allows;" "are in need of" becomes "need."
Redundancy elimination: Ministry and its various forms are used four times. In the revision, "ministry" and "minister" each appear once. Reword prepositional phrases. "Within our congregation" becomes "Our congregation's." Eliminate "in which."

Here are a few other quick tips on eliminating redundancies:
• "In order to buy the flowers" can be "To buy the flowers."
• "For a period of time" can be "for a period" or "for a time."
• "Currently" usually can be eliminated.
• "In addition to running, he also knits," can be "In addition to running, he knits."
• "Absolutely complete" can be "complete."
• "First began" can be "begin."
• "Added bonus" can be "bonus."

You can find many resources to assist the editing process and improve your writing. Check out for 73 ways to become a better writer.