All praise the blog.  It lets us write as much as we want—word count and column inches be damned.

We are free to indulge ourselves in lengthy stories and boundless digressions from our original ideas. We can bring in fascinating background material and interesting anecdotes, embellishing every sentence (like this one) with strings of commas, parenthetical thoughts, and florid bouquets of adjectives and adverbs.

In other words, it makes for sloppy writing.

13. Omit needless words.
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. – William Strunk, Jr. The Elements of Style. 1918.

I’ve been as guilty as anyone, writing long merely because short wasn’t required. But my recent work writing information panels for science centres, where every word must tell,  has me looking at my own blog posts with a more critical eye.

Hybrid Car Panel

How does a hybrid car work? Sure you can explain it in 300 words. But can you do it in 8 simple sentences? Credit: Graphics: Niina Gates-Kass; Text: Kimberly Moynahan

 For the rest of my thoughts on this, some excellent examples in brevity, and my challenge to bloggers, head over to Science Borealis and read my post there:  Science Blogging Essentials: Cutting the Dead Wood