The ‘basis’ of concise writing

27 August 2009

I recently copyedited a 20-plus page document that for the most part was very well written – well organised, complete and with very few grammar mistakes.


The biggest problem?  It was littered with the wordy phrase ‘on a … basis’ – for example, ‘on a weekly basis’, ‘on a daily basis’ and so on. 


Perhaps the writer thought this phrase made the document sound very business-like.  But what’s more business-like than saving time?   


Or maybe he was trying to increase the number of words to meet a required word-count.  Surely not!


To save both typing time and reading time, you can replace those four-word phrases with one word.  For example,

·      Instead of on a daily basis, say daily. 

·      Instead of on a regular basis, say regularly. 

·      The redundant on a regular daily basis can be shortened by 80% with the word daily. 

·      And the repetitive on an ongoing basis?  Replace that one with still or regularly. 


Other wordy phrases with a similar meaning include day by day, week by week, year by year and so on.  They work fine in novels, but not in business documents.


Remember to take advantage of these sweet little adverbs to unclutter your texts:  daily, nightly, weekly, monthly, yearly, regularly and still.

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