Q. Now that the Executive Director wants to add a last-minute article to our newsletter, there’s only half as much space for my article about the upcoming charity gala. Time to reduce word count: How do I cut down my 400-word article to just 200 words?

A. Actually, 200 words is a sprawling expanse of verbiage, if you choose the right words. Here’s a step-by-step guide to drastic text cutting.

Claire Underwood from the show House of Cards knows how to reduce word count when speaking.

Communicate like Claire! “House of Cards” fans know Mrs. Underwood may not be a role model for anything else, but she is adept at using the fewest words necessary to convey her point.

1. Perform triage. Break the information into three categories: Need to know, good to know and nice to know. Here’s how your gala article might shake down:

Need to know: type of event, charity supported, host organization, date, time, location, ticket price, how to get additional information and how to get tickets.

Good to know: what the gala consists of (dinner, silent auction, award ceremony, keynote speaker), specific address (as opposed to just name of venue), event sponsors and the good works and accomplishments of the charity.

Nice to know: bio of the keynote speaker, award categories, silent auction highlights, quote from the Executive Director about how great the event is going to be.

Now rewrite your article with all the need to knows, and as many of the good to knows as you can fit in.

2. Tighten up the language. Use the active voice and be concise. Avoid useless phrases, such as “there will be” and “has been announced,” as well as unnecessary explanations. Consider:

The Underwood Foundation’s March 17 gala supports the Clean Water Initiative’s efforts in Africa. Tickets are $500 each. (18 words)


There will be a gala on March 17 hosted by the Underwood Foundation. It has been announced that the Clean Water Initiative, an organization that works primarily in Africa, will receive the proceeds from the gala. The cost of the tickets is $500 per person. (45 words)

3. Link to your website for details. In the last line of article, provide a “For more information” link to your website, where readers can find the full version of your article, complete with all the good to knows and nice to knows.

With these three tips, it will be easy for you to reduce word count while keeping your article informative.

Need help writing or editing for your website or blog? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

Share This