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Common feedback comments and what they mean: What is Verbosity?

This guide lists some common feedback comments and explains what they mean.

What is verbosity?

Verbosity means wordiness and it happens when we use more words than necessary in our writing. This is often done when we want our writing to sound formal and intelligent, but verbosity can make our writing confusing and ineffective.

How to avoid verbosity.

1. Use active verbs: Make the subject of a sentence do something.

Wordy: The research proposals were reviewed by the committee.
Revised: The committee reviewed the research proposals.


2. Avoid writing long and wordy sentences:

Wordy:  At this moment in time, Australians disenfranchised with the political system should be encouraged to participate in the voting process.
Revised: Australians should be encouraged to vote.


3. Avoid using phrases that do not add meaning to your sentence.

Common examples:

  • all things being equal
  • all things considered
  • as a matter of fact
  • as far as I am concerned
  • at the end of the day
  • at the present time
  • due to the fact that
  • for all intents and purposes
  • for the most part
  • for the purpose of
  • in a manner of speaking
  • in my opinion
  • in the event of
  • in the final analysis

Wordy: All things being equal, what I am trying to say is that in my opinion all Australians should, for all intents and purposes, have the right to free speech.

Revised: All Australians should have the right to free speech.


4. Avoid Using Noun Forms of Verbs:  

Wordy: The presentation of the arguments by the speaker was convincing.
Revised: The speaker presented their arguments convincingly.

Or . . .
The speaker argued convincingly.


5.  Make each word count: Words that are vague (such as thing or type) are often used to ‘pad out’ a sentence, but hinder clarity and sometimes meaning.

Wordy: After reading several things in the area of political-type subjects, I decided to view the situation differently and change my argument about compulsory voting.

Revised: After reading several books on politics, I changed my view about compulsory voting.


6. Avoid overstating.

In academic writing avoid overstating something that does not need to be overstated.


         The children were really hungry. (You are either hungry or you are not hungry).

         The condition of the house was very dilapidated. (The condition of the house is either dilapidated or not dilapidated).

            I totally agree this research is important. (You either agree or you do not agree).