The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Clear, Concise Sentences

Put wordy phrases on a diet

Make sentences concise by eliminating wordy phrases.

Wordy: In a situation in which a class is overenrolled, you may request that the instructor force-add you.

Concise: When a class is overenrolled, you may ask the instructor to force-add you.

Wordy: I will now make a few observations concerning the matter of contingency funds.

Concise: I will now make a few observations about contingency funds.

Wordy: There is a need for more careful inspection of all welds.

Concise: You must inspect all welds more carefully.
Inspect all welds more carefully.

(Williams, 1985, p. 79)

Words to use

Here are some words you can use to trim the fat off of wordy phrases:

Instead of . . .

Use . . .


  • the reason for
  • for the reason that
  • due to the fact that
  • owing to the fact that
  • in light of the fact that
  • considering the fact that
  • on the grounds that
  • this is why
because, since, why

  • despite the fact that
  • regardless of the fact that
  • notwithstanding the fact that
although, even, though

  • in the event that
  • if it should transpire/happen that
  • under circumstances in which
if

  • on the occasion of
  • in a situation in which
  • under circumstances in which
when

  • as regards
  • in reference to
  • with regard to
  • concerning the matter of
  • where . . . is concerned
about

  • it is crucial that
  • it is necessary that
  • there is a need/necessity for
  • it is important that
  • it is incumbent upon
  • cannot be avoided
must, should

  • is able to
  • has the opportunity to
  • is in a position to
  • has the capacity for
  • has the ability to
can

  • it is possible that
  • there is a chance that
  • it could happen that
  • the possibility exists for
may, might, can, could

  • prior to
  • in anticipation of
  • subsequent to
  • following on
  • at the same time as
  • simultaneously with
before, after, as