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Six Ways to Chop That Tweet Down to Size [Slide Show]

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120503-1 Intro
Brevity is the soul of wit, but it's also the soul of a well-crafted tweet. Communicating a fully developed thought in 140 characters or less isn't easy. So how do you edit and condense without losing your meaning? Mark Brownlow offers several tips—and an important caveat—at No Man Is An Iland. Here are some of the best tips he has to offer.
120503-2 1. Plan on a rewrite

1. Plan on a rewrite

Granting "first draft" status to something as short as a tweet might seem odd—but even a veteran tweeter will rarely achieve concise perfection without some refinement. "Your first line of text probably does communicate what you want to say, but it takes rewrites to communicate it succinctly," notes Brownlow.

120503-3 2. Use synonyms judiciously

2. Use synonyms judiciously

For example, if something is difficult (nine characters long), you can describe it as hard (four characters long) without altering your meaning. Save two characters by using in 2011 instead of last year. And when a single character makes the difference between 140 and 141, switch a few to some.

120503-4 3. Eliminate unnecessary or implied words

3. Eliminate unnecessary or implied words

In informal environments such as Twitter, the personal pronoun I may often be implied, which is why Loved this article works as well as I loved this article. You can also edit out words such as that, which, and who if you don't need them. New products that you'll love can easily become New products you'll love.

120503-5 4. Use active voice

4. Use active voice

A passive voice does more than reduce the urgency of your statement; it also clutters your tweet with needless verbiage. Also, be aware of tense. A simple edit from are using to use nets you six characters and improves the quality of your writing.

120503-6 5. Abbreviate where appropriate

5. Abbreviate where appropriate

Abbreviations are a great way to save space—but they're a false economy if your readers don't know what you mean, or if they create the wrong tone. For example, even if your followers know OMG stands for Oh my God, using the abbreviation might not be an appropriate expression in the context of your online conversation.

120503-7 6. Don't sacrifice individuality at the altar of brevity

6. Don't sacrifice individuality at the altar of brevity

"Short, concise writing can destroy style, humor, emotion and personality if handled badly," warns Brownlow. "And these may be the very things that differentiate you from the competition or drive higher responses."

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Christian Gulliksen is a writer who has authored several of the Get to the Po!nt newsletters for MarketingProfs. A former editor at Robb Report, he has also contributed to Worth, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.

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