Writing Great Content: 9 Ways to Reduce Character and Word Count

March 8, 2017

by Virtucom Group Team

Regardless of the industry in which you work, persuasive copy is required to sell products or services. Good copy strikes a balance between in-depth fact and compelling language - a balance that any content writer is always striving to attain. But it’s an art that is difficult to perfect, especially when working within tight character or word count restrictions, which are almost always at play when it comes to strategic copywriting.

Luckily, with the right tactics, keeping your copy within specified limits - and writing great content at the same time - is a breeze. Keep reading for a host of tips and tricks that will come in handy when you’re faced with such challenges.

9 Tips For Writing Great Content

  1. Change phrases into single words, if possible
    While you may struggle to find words that capture the precise essence of the phrases you’re trying to reduce, this rule is an excellent basic idea to bear in mind when self-editing. Some reductions are so simple they might be easy to overlook, such as changing “is able to” into “can,” but even the smallest cuts bring you closer to your goal.
  2. Cut down on adverbs.
    This rule is an easy one - where you feel an adverb might come in handy, simply replace the word being modified with a more specific, powerful choice. Choose “rush” instead of “walk quickly.” Use “huge” over “very large.” The character cuts may seem small, but they add up in the end.
  3. Eliminate redundant phrases
    “Wide breadth.” “Filled to capacity.” “Mix together.” Such phrases may imbue your writing with an immersive, flowery feel, but, frankly, they’re filler. A breadth is wide by default. If something’s filled, it’s obviously reached its capacity. It’s common knowledge that mixing involves blending together. And that’s that - if the meaning is already made clear by one word, there’s no need to add another.
  4. Take advantage of contractions
    Your usage of contractions may depend on your area of writing. But if your content is geared for retail purposes or consumption by the general public, the odds are good that your audience won’t think you any less professional for using “don’t” in place of “do not.” In fact, using contractions is likely to result in an easier read and, therefore, more effective reader engagement.
  5. Remove “there is” or “there are”
    These two pairs of words tend to be unnecessary in most copy. Take, for example, the sentence “There are many people living in New York City.” Simply changing this to “Many people live in New York City” significantly reduces character count, and the word count is dropped by two.
  6. Write actively rather than passively
    While you could sell a product with a statement like “with product X, you can perform action Y,” the point is just as easily made by saying “Perform action Y with product X.” Once again, this results in a two-word reduction and a notable drop in character count. Plus, active voice is generally more engaging and immersive than passive writing, which is a benefit any reader will appreciate.
  7. Replace conjunctions with punctuation
    It can seem logical to use conjunctions from time to time, and they may seem necessary to break up the flow of your copy. They aren’t always required, though - whenever possible, consider eliminating words such as “and” or “but” from your copy altogether and changing the previous sentence into two independent sentences.
  8. “That” is unnecessary
    Another simple rule. A few characters are easily shaved off the sentence “Product X ensures that action Y is completed” by using “Product X ensures action Y is completed” The contextual difference is nearly negligible, but it shows in the character count.
  9. Avoid big words
    Though lengthier word choices may make your copy seem more professional, they’re seldom so beneficial that they can’t simply be axed, especially when writing persuasive copy intended for a general audience. Feel free to replace such words as “massive” with “large,” or even “big,” depending on the context.

While there are other tactics that might result in a smaller character or word count when used, such as comprehensively changing up the organization of your content, this list should help you do the job when speed is your first concern.

If you have any additional character-count-cutting recommendations worth taking into consideration, be sure to spread your knowledge by leaving a comment below. Connect with Virtucom Group further by visiting us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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About Virtucom Group

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