“This report by its very length defends itself against the risk of being read.”
– Winston Churchill
By its nature, email works best with messages not more a page or two long, wordiness is a distraction. Attachments are the best utilization for expanding email communications.
During a busy day, receiving a long and detailed email is seldom welcomed. Worse still, the longer a correspondence is, the less likely it is to be read. There also is a distinct possibility that even if it is read, it may not be done completely or with full attention.
If a long email is necessary, the proper Netiquette should be followed to ensure readability, the early introduction of a major topic, and a brief explanation for the need to have a long message. It may also be best to have the correspondence divided and sent separately.
One long-term negative factor of sending a long or verbose message may set a bad precedent in which the recipient will not immediately or ever read the future correspondence.
Simple steps to avoid wordiness
Certain words can contribute to making sentences less clear as well as providing more verbosity. Among these are:
- Kind of
- Sort of
- For all intents and purposes
- In other words
- As previously stated
- Generally speaking
- In particular
- Generally, in general
Redundant words and appositives
An appositive is defined (by reference.com) as a word or phrase to identify, amplify, or rename the preceding word. These can be unnecessarily obvious. Samples of these appositives which add no value are shown below:
Wordy: This is an example of an appositive that provides unnecessary identification.George Washington, the first president of the United States and a founding father . . .
Better: George Washington, the first president . . .
Best George Washington . . .
Most email writers cannot avoid using redundant pairs and this is a common mistake made even in brief messages. Some generic examples of these include:
- past remembrances
- basic fundamentals
- true facts
- honest truth
- terrible tragedy
- final outcome
- unexpected surprise
- past history
- future plans
- boundary line
There are many, many more of these and the best way to reduce their usage is to maintain good Netiquette in messages and to edit the text before sending it.
To conclude. Statistics show that up to 97% of emails go unread. To increase these percentages, a sender must always be mindful of items that contribute significantly to these statistics. Wordiness is fully in a sends control and should never be a cause of an unread message.