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Excessive Description

Academic must writers use adjectives, adverbs and descriptive phrases to paint a clear picture of their research ideas for the reader. However, a writer can be overly detailed at times; see the sentence below for an example.

Sentence: The first hypothesis examines the relationship between length of formal test preparation and test performance AS IT RELATES SPECIFICALLY TO college entrance examination scores.


Edited Sentence: The first hypothesis examines the relationship between length of formal test preparation and test performance ON college entrance examination scores.

In describing the first hypothesis, the writer of this sentence describes the test performance being measured by using the phrase “as it relates specifically to.” However, this descriptive phrase is wordy because the pronoun “it” replaces a noun that is written just two words prior (“test performance”).


Also, the use of the verb “relates” as well as the adverb “specifically” is unnecessary since the writer clearly identifies “college entrance examination scores” as the type of test performance being measured. Therefore, the test performance is not related to, but solely about college entrance examination scores.

So, in the edited sentence, the detailed phrase is condensed to the preposition “on.” This edit maximizes the use of descriptors while clearly showing the relationship the hypothesis examines.


Remember, as a writer, you are responsible for ensuring that every word in a sentence contributes to the clarity, description and/or understanding of the ideas presented.

Until next week, happy writing!

Dr. V



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