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The Art of Brevity

After firing off another long missive email the other day, I tweeted a request for resources on the art of brevity. I felt fairly certain that this is one of those things you just have to practice, but wow—people came through with a LOT of suggestions. For posterity, here’s a roundup of the recommendations:


The Art of Brevity list on Bookshop

Lots of books! I compiled these into a list on (disclosure).

For transparency, that’s an affiliate link, so I’ll receive a small portion of sales from those books. Please don’t feel the need to buy from Bookshop (though they support small businesses!). Wherever you buy/borrow your books from, I do humbly ask that you avoid making *ahem* massively wealthy mono-retailers any richer.

Online Resources

Advice / Personal Process

  • Edit!!!
  • …and give yourself at least a day between writing and editing your own work.
  • Work with an editor, or peer review.
  • Cut adverbs and adjectives.
  • Cut out unnecessary words, ruthlessly.
  • Break down compound sentences and clauses.
  • Use active voice.
  • More literally, read your words aloud.
  • Or explain a concept out loud to another person—then write that down!
  • Use semantic line breaks as a “code smell” for run-on sentences.
  • Have clarity of purpose.
  • Ask yourself: “Do people need to know that at this point?”

What are your favorite tips on brevity? Feel free to chime in on Twitter or shoot me an email!


  1. Disclosure: I’m an affiliate of Any purchases you make using my link will earn me (and local bookstores!) a small commission.


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