Has a reviewer pointed out that your manuscript is verbose, wordy, WAY too long, or that you need to cut?

Don’t let the «revise and resubmit» decision paralyze you.

Here are 6 strategies to address this feedback:

1. Cut repetitive sentences 

2. Combine similar sentences 

3. Remove expletive constructions 

4. Eliminate intensifiers/modifiers 

5. Identify grouped synonyms 

6. Remove yourself

Implementing the strategies

Let me explain how to implement each strategy.

1. Cut repetitive sentences – In a gist, every sentence should present unique and new information. If two or more sentences are similar, pick one and delete the others.

2. Combine similar sentences – Check if you used more than one sentence to say something that could have been said in one. Think of it as sentences that list similar items.

Original: Research data sources include qualitative interviews and 
participant artifacts. While quantitative data consists of aptitude
tests and Likert scales.
Improved: The study incorporates qualitative (i.e., interviews,
artifacts) and quantitative data sources (i.e., aptitude tests, Likert

3. Identify grouped synonyms – Look for lists of words with similar meaning.

Original: Dentists and dental assistants recommend daily flossing. 
Improved: Dental specialists recommend daily flossing.

4. Remove expletive constructions – Identify sentences that start with the following word combinations: «It is…» «There are…»

Original: There are 45 subjects who met study criteria. 
Improved: Forty five subjects met study criteria.

5. Eliminate intensifiers/modifiers – Look out for these words and replace with terms that capture the desired emphasis: «very,» «utmost,» «really»

Original: It is of utmost importance to pursue this line of research. 
Improved: It is crucial to pursue this line of research.

6. Remove yourself – Look out for these phrases: «In my opinion,» «I believe»

Original: I believe that language cannot be removed from science 
Improved: Language cannot be removed from science education.

Tackling the revision

First things first. I assure you starting with the simplest revision strategies will help you start to feel more in charge of your writing. So hit CTRL + F in your keyboard to locate every instance of the phrases and words listed under #4, #5, and #6.

Then, you can move on to #1, #2, and #3 since they require that you actually read the piece sentence by sentence. I also recommend that you do this conciseness revision in multiple sessions and not just one sitting. Having a couple of productive revising sections will help boost your writing morale.

More Resources

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you edit and revise your manuscripts, you can check out my store. I help students and academics with:

Document formatting

Grammar and proofreading

Through a VIP, one payment, semester editing bundle for students.

I also enjoy facilitating writing workshops. Request yours. Here’s what other academics have said about my revision workshop:

Zaira’s segment fit right in with actionable and feasible methods of breaking a large messy problem into bite size chunks you can tackle when you have 10 minutes or when you have two hours. Her message that revision is an integral part part of the writing process came through in her expert and compelling delivery. I am walking away with resources I can put to use right away, and support system to fall back on when projects inevitably go sideways!

Join my next writing webinar