Virtually every workplace reader gripes about lengthy and long-winded business documents—and rightly so. In an economy that is “more information based than industrial,” companies lose money when the chief commodity is trafficked inefficiently.

In the United States, email alone consumes an average of 13 hours per week per worker. Assuming that the average person earns $50,000 a year, the time spent reading and answering internal and external messages costs a company $16,250 per worker each year.

To offset the high cost of composing and comprehending, many managers advise staff to be brief and avoid wordy emails, memos, and business letters. However, workplace writers are rarely offered specific strategies for achieving brevity, particularly ...

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