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How to deal with the problem of overwriting? Как сократить текст письма или эссе?
Основатель и руководитель школы English 4U, кандидат филологических наук, учитель и преподаватель английского языка, разработчик учебных материалов и курсов

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I have a Candidate of Philological Sciences degree and great work experience to teach students at all levels from all over the world. I help them improve their English and achieve their goals.

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How to deal with the problem of overwriting? Как сократить текст письма или эссе?

The problem of overwriting


This problem is wide-spread, as there is always a word limit for any writing task (letters or essays) and you should make sure you keep within this limit.  If you go over the limit you should decide what to do. The tips below could help you with it.


Эта проблема широко распространена, так как всегда существует ограничение по количеству слов для любого письменного задания (письма или эссе), и вы должны убедиться, что соблюдаете это ограничение. Если вы превысите лимит, вы должны решить, что делать. Приведенные ниже советы могут помочь вам в этом.


HOW to solve the problem of overwriting? HOW to reduce the number of words and make your letter or an essay shorter?


КАК решить проблему чрезмерного количества слов? КАК сократить количество слов и сделать ваше письмо или эссе короче?


There are several ways:


1. Check the letter/essay for any irrelevant info. Remove irrelevant information that is off the topic, some words or even sentences. But do not go off the topic!


2. Reduce the details. Get rid of all unnecessary details, for example, you can remove adjectives or adverbs unless you have to describe something or somebody.


3. Do not repeat the same information, avoid any repetition. Combine the same ideas together.


4. Paraphrase the longer sentences. Make the sentences simpler and shorter, transform them by using another grammar structure, for example:

  • There was no furniture in the room (7 words) – The room had no furniture (5 words).

  • When her father arrived at the airport she was seating at home watching TV and even didn’t go to meet him (21 words) -  Instead of meeting her father at the airport she was watching TV at home  (14 words)


5. Use shorter synonymic expressions, for example, use many or much (1 word) instead of a lot of where there are 3 words.

  • With lots of love – with love (2 words)

  • I’m writing to tell you about how I spent my holidays this summer (13 words)  – I’d like to tell you about my summer holidays (9 words)

  • You had better not go out (6 words)  - I’d rather stay in (4 words)

  • I’ve got a lot of friends      ( 6 words) - I have many friends (4 words)

  • I  don’t  have any information (5 words) -  I have no information (4 words)


6. Use contracted grammar forms instead of full forms where it’s stylistically appropriate, for example: she’s, where’s, you’d better, I’d rather, I’d like, there’re, she doesn’t, you haven’t

  • I am – I’m
  • She has gone – she’s gone
  • They will not come – they won’t come
  • It is true – it’s true 

7. Do not use phrasal verbs, if it is possible, replace phrasal verbs with verbs used without prepositions: give up (2 words)  - stop (1 word), put off – delay, call off – cancel.

8. Replace the nouns with pronouns, where it’s possible, for example, Mary and John – they.


Поняв основные способы сокращения текста, попробуйте выполнить несложное задание:



There’re 168 words in the text below. Reduce this text up to 70-100 words. Remove some sentences or words which are off the topic. Get rid of any unnecessary or irrelevant information and details, paraphrase some parts, combine some words or sentences.


Task: write your friend a letter about your last visit to the shop


Last weekend my mother and father went shopping with me. As usual, we shopped in a fantastic huge and modern shopping mall in the center of the city. I always feel excited when we go there because there’re many department stores which sell all kinds of goods. What is more, there’re some entertainments, for example, exhibitions, music performances, cinemas and food courts where you can spend your free time. My relatives like shopping here too. By the way, they recommended my parents this shopping center.


Last weekend we bought there a lot of different things, some clothes, books, shoes, products for me, for my younger sister, for our dog and for the parents. We enjoyed shopping because we were able to choose and buy what we wanted and shopping did not take too much time so we did not feel tired after it. Besides, there were no queues at the cashier desks and we paid a reasonable price for our purchases. I would like to go there again.

(168 words)


How to Avoid Overwriting and Create Effective Emphasis - The Writer's Ally™