Shorten modifying phrases and clauses

Restrictive ("that") and nonrestrictive ("which") clauses have a valuable place in scientific writing, but they are often overused. These types of phrases have shorter equivalents. Replace "that" and "which" phrases with participles or other verb forms:

Wordy: The organism that Chu (1993) found was a guppy that laid eggs.

Better: The organism Chu (1993) found was an egg-laying guppy.

Prepositional phrases are also often overused. Scrutinize all prepositional constructions, especially those introduced by of. To reduce the length of wordy passages, substitute the adjective form of the nouns that are the object of these prepositional phrases. Alternatively, place nouns or noun substitutes in apposition.

Unnecessary prepositional phrases: The dog with dyspnea was referred to a clinic in the neighborhood.

Better: The dyspneic dog was referred to a neighborhood clinic.

Wordy prepositional phrase: Group One includes a number of plants of the genus Coleus.

Nouns placed in apposition: Group One includes Coleus plants.

Redundancy and verbosity are often coupled with jargon (see Chapter 6) and worn phrases which are so familiar that they pass unnoticed.

Verbose: Due to the fact that breeder flocks in most cases are being subjected to periodical vaccination programs . . .

Better: Because breeder flocks usually are vaccinated periodically . . .

When all these various kinds of changes are taken together, substantially shorter text can result:

Wordy: The genera of the group of fungi that was studied by Fitzpatrick at this time are placed in the group of genera that are called the order Hypocreales because of the work of Miller (1941). [35 words]

Shorter: The fungal genera studied by Fitzpatrick are now placed in the order Hypocreales because of Miller's (1941) work. [17 words]

Wordy: The kitten which was the sole offspring of the calico was devoid of hair that was orange in color. [19 words]

Shorter: The calico's sole offspring was a kitten without orange hair. [10 words]

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