PhD Survival Guide: How to cut down words

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Us PhD students are very precious of our words. They take hours to craft. Hours to proof. Hours to read. This makes removing them hard. However, unfortunately it is a necessary evil. We have to cut words to fit tiny publication limits and to ensure our thesis examiners do not get too bored of our superfluous information. 

Here are my tips for cutting out words:

Just write- My first tip to cut words is to not cut words at all. When you start writing do not think about your word count, this will kill your creativity. Just write as many little precious words that you can. 

Cut and paste- When it is time to start editing your work, cut and paste any paragraphs that you think may be unnecessary into a new document. This way you’re not losing your words completely and can go back to this document if you need. 

Use track changes- When editing, use track changes. This is a good way to keep track of the words/sections that you are removing. It can also be very satisfying to look at a document full of track changes. A good productivity ego boost. 

Read out a loud- Deleting words here and there is a tricky part of editing, however it makes your writing concise and sleek. I find the best way to find these one-off words to delete is by reading my writing out loud. If the sentence is clunky to speak then some words could probably be deleted.

Practice by editing other people’s work- My writing skills and editing skills have developed through editing other people’s work. This includes colleagues and also through marking assignments. By picking up on what words other people can delete, I can be more brutal with my own writing. 

Click here for the latest PhD Survival Guide PDF words that you can commonly delete. 

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