IOE Writing Centre


Reducing the word count

Girl with laptop

Why reduce your word count? Reducing the word count lets you add more detail and content to your argument, and allows you to use more words for cohesion and transition devices. This may improve your writing overall.

Try it yourself: Look at the following text and try to reduce the word count by deleting unnecessary words. You can probably reduce it to below 100 words.

Example 'Wordy' Text

It can be considered as generally accepted that different teacher trainers working within the Cambridge ESOL training system may have widely differing approaches and ways of working.  An illustration of possible differences can be given through a description of the way feedback is delivered during the teaching practice element of the course.  As there is no information or guidance from Cambridge ESOL about how to conduct post-observation feedback, different trainers on different courses will organise this in a variety of ways.  Examples of divergences in practice which I have observed include whether the trainer speaks first or lets the trainee speak first, how much and in what way the trainer expects other trainees to contribute, or whether the feedback is given directly after the lesson or the following day.  As well as the range of procedural differences such as these, there is variation in the way the trainer will communicate during feedback sessions. 

(Source:  Blackwell, J. 2009. "Jesus, Janey, why are you doing this to me!": CELTA Trainer Training and the Trainer-Trainee Relationship. UCL Institute of Education: Unpublished Masters Assignment. Adapted.)

Now watch and listen to a tutor editing the first sentence.

Now watch and listen to a tutor comparing the new edited version of 77 words with the original of 153 words in this comparison.

Accessibility: A transcript of these two videos will be provided soon. If you require a transcript now, please contact the Academic Writing Centre by email.

For advice on interpreting the word count instructions, see the page on word count.

Further reading: Word Count Instructions

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