Academia Rewards Length, Business Rewards Brevity

It amazes me how large the difference is between academic language and business writing. The following two segments of writing illustrate how different the two worlds of writing really are.

Academia Rewards Length

When I sat down to write my first blog post for E-Learning Uncovered, I took a bunch of time to try to figure out what I wanted to say. I spent a while outlining my thoughts, and then I wrote a first draft. After reading through my draft and tweaking it a little to where I was comfortable with sending it to someone else to read, I sent it to Diane for review. What I got back was akin to the destruction that was the paper on my desk after my now 18-month old son got his hands on a red Sharpie. (Yes, that really happened!) The first time I opened the Word document she sent back, I closed it quickly. I was scared.

I realized things needed to change. Gone were the days of lengthy paragraphs. Say bye-bye to the long-winded sentences and stories. This is the real world now – no one cares if your blog post is 250 words or 1,000. If you get your point across effectively, the fewer words, the better.

Diane gave so many tips and pointers about my writing style that we got a 1,000+ word blog post down to just over 600 – and it made the same points in fewer words. It actually flowed better, too.

Business Rewards Brevity

When I wrote my first blog post, I created a bloated draft that Diane sliced and diced with a Ginsu knife. My 1,000 word opus became 600 words of clarity. I realized my long-winded college writing style was useless now. In the business world you need to get your point across – and the fewer words, the better.

Which, you ask, is better written? In all fairness, the best solution probably lies somewhere between these two extremes.

So, what’s the solution to this ever-growing gap? In my opinion, schools need to prepare students by focusing more on meeting the needs of future employers. What do you think?

Nick Elkins

5 Responses to “Academia Rewards Length, Business Rewards Brevity

  • This is awesome. Thank you for sharing. As a content manager and fresh grad, I first and still do struggle with writing a lot more academic then actually business, and am still working on making my stuff more conversational as well as succinct. At the end of the day people in business want concrete facts and an easy read, because time is of the essence. At DePaul, I notice a lot my professors to have word or page limits, but a lot of the professors also say “write however long you want as long as you get the proper points across.” So it all depends.

    • Thanks, Nick! As with many problems, I think the first step is self-awareness. Now that I know I have a tendency to over-talk a point, I’m getting better at getting my writing more to the point!

      – Nick

  • Deadline for submissions to the PS at the bottom of Desiree’s last post ( is Tuesday, June 4, 2013. We’re looking forward to the creative responses!

    • Nick Elkins
      7 years ago

      Congratulations to Rick B. for winning our book giveaway. His blog post re-write was our favorite. Thanks to everyone who participated!

  • Elizabeth
    7 years ago

    I agree that schools should focus on teaching students to effectively communicate in writing and speech. I have also had to adjust my writing style since graduation.

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