3 Easy Ways to Reduce Word Counts in Your Research Paper
Here, we highlight three additional strategies for concise writing: eliminating unnecessary spaces, repetition of units, and wordy transitions.
Updated on June 24, 2014
In other article, we offer several suggestions for reducing your manuscript's word count, including choosing efficient verbs and phrasing, decreasing redundancy, avoiding extraneous words, and removing filler phrases. We have also discussed the use of abbreviations and acronyms to further reduce word counts, although this approach should not be overused. Here, we highlight three additional strategies for concise writing: eliminating unnecessary spaces, repetition of units, and wordy transitions.
1. Eliminating unnecessary spaces
Extra spaces between numbers and the percentage sign (%), the degree sign (°), symbols (such as Greek letters), or operators (<, >, ≤, ≥, =, and ± are common ones) and within numerical ranges and fractions can lead to word count inflation. The following are a few examples of situations in which you can delete extra spaces to decrease your manuscript's word count:
- 55 % → 55% (-1 word)
- 37 °C → 37°C (-1 word)
- IFN γ → IFN-γ (-1 word)
- P < 0.01 → P<0.01 (-2 words)
- 1990 to 2000 → 1990-2000 (-2 words)
- 5 out of 10 → 5/10 (-3 words)
Although these are small changes, they can add up. Consider using the Microsoft Word Find and Replace tool to identify these constructions, allowing rapid and systematic deletion.
2. Eliminating repetition of units
When detailing more than one quantitative value, units often only need to be mentioned once, as in the following two cases:
- (2 kg vs. 5 kg for the experimental and control groups, respectively) → (2 vs. 5 kg for the experimental and control groups, respectively)
- Samples were collected at 0.5 h, 1 h, 2 h, 4 h, 8 h, and 16 h → Samples were collected at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 h
3. Eliminating wordy transitions
There are also less wordy substitutes for many common transitional phrases:
- In addition → Additionally, Moreover, Furthermore
- In particular, More specifically → Specifically
- As a result, As a consequence → Thus, Therefore, Consequently
- On the other hand → Additionally, Moreover, Furthermore OR In contrast (depending on the intended meaning)
We hope that today's editing tip has provided helpful advice on further reducing word counts. Please feel free to email us with any comments or questions if you would like to learn more.