Revising Wordy Prose

wordiness

By far the biggest problem in writing these days is too many words per thought. Sometimes the wordiness is intentional, but often it’s simply due to a lack of skill. Revising wordy prose is a little like translating. The following are passages from actual documents. Try revising them to reduce the wordiness, and compare your revisions to mine.

  1. At the current time, there is no assessment completed to determine who is best suited to serve on the audit committee prior to appointments; members are appointed based on personal preference. (31 words)
  2. There were instances observed when the board of directors does not appear to have demonstrated an appropriate level of independence and oversight to be able to assert that it is in control of its operations. (35 words)
  3. The work plan should specify the kind of information and assurances required for each meeting, and identify who is accountable for providing the committee with this information and assurances. Once developed, it is the responsibility of the audit committee to ensure that commitments are met. (45 words)
  4. The conclusion that has been reached by this committee is that if there is no cooperation on the part of the staff, the termination of the project should be taken into serious consideration. (33 words)
  5. The role of a compliance function is to provide independent oversight that identifies, assesses, advises on, monitors and reports on the company’s compliance risk—the risk of legal or regulatory sanctions, financial loss, or a loss of reputation that a company may suffer as a result of its failure to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, organizational by-laws, codes of conduct and sound business practice. (66 words)

Possible Revisions:

  1. Currently appointments to the audit committee are based on personal preference rather than objective assessments. (15 words)
  2. We observed instances in which the Board of Directors lacked the independence and oversight to claim that it is in “control” of its operations. (26 words)
  3. The work plan should specify what information and assurances are required for each meeting and identify who is responsible for providing them. Once the plan is developed, the audit committee will ensure that commitments are met. (36 words)
  4. The committee has concluded that if staff do not cooperate, it will seriously consider terminating the project. (17 words)
  5. A compliance function provides independent oversight that monitors and reports on the company’s risk of regulatory sanctions, financial lose, or damage to its reputation because it has failed to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, organizational by-laws, codes of conduct and sound business practice. (44 words)
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