Beware of verbiage

Verbiage, which coincidentally rhymes with garbage, means the use of many unnecessary words. Often it leads to a sort of ritualistic, pompous writing style like this:

Following termination of avian exposure, there was a substantial incrementation in lung volume and at this moment in time, it would appear that there has been a marginal degree of improvement in diffusing capacity. [34 words]

Even the most diehard among us would welcome with relief a shorter and more specific rewrite such as:

After the man stopped keeping birds, his lung volume increased and diffusing capacity apparently improved slightly. [16 words]

There are no shortcuts around a fundamental step: Line by line and word by word, check through the first draft of the text. Ask "Is this word necessary? How can this be shortened? Does this say what I really mean?" Work on this point is not just an altruistic act directed toward readers. Practice directed toward simplifying expressions sharpens a writer's vocabulary and thinking skills.

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