SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

To visit the Spanish blog, click here
All Posts

7 Techniques for Reducing Wordiness in Your eLearning Courses

Wordiness is, without a doubt, one of the biggest enemies of eLearning. Overly wordy content makes it difficult for learners to concentrate. Having more material to consume makes it complicated for them to judge, analyze and make sense of what they are reading. Indeed, studies prove that lessons with the fewer words results in more learning.

But what exactly is wordiness? By simple definition, wordiness is defined as a way of telling something with more words than necessary. 

A common mistake done by eLearning course creators is the tendency to over-explain everything. If you are one of these people, your intentions are commendable; however, your end result will be that you will bore your learners to death.  

Follow the next strategies for trimming your courses. By offering information in a concise, precise manner, you will attract more learners and you will help them learn:


Technique #1: Rework language 

Overusing industry specific terms in eLearning courses is the safest way to drive students away. It is just like academic language used in a high school classroom; sooner than you think, everyone will start dozing off.

Try to translate all the information you want to convey in simpler terms. This does not mean that you are “dumbing down” your course. You are simply making it easier to understand, and, in the process, more interesting for those willing to pay for your course. 

Technique #2: Trim long sentences

The longer a sentence is, the easier it becomes for the learner to lose track. Using too many words to describe the same thing is boring, and the essential information you want to convey gets lost.'

Split longer sentences into shorter ones, and read again, out loud, if possible. You will notice that the actual flow of the text becomes more human friendly.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing just short sentences. This will create an unpleasant, choppy effect that, just like wordiness, stunts the natural flow of ideas. 

Technique #3: Cut off weak words

There are many ways in which wordiness is rearing its ugly head. One is through unnecessary prepositions. Another is through words that express the same idea, over and over again.

Your safest course of action is to cut off any weak words you encounter. Take a moment or two to think when reading each phrase: does this truly belong here? No matter how tempted you feel to emphasize your speech with pompous and redundant words, just don’t. They do not add value to your course, and they even do the opposite.

Here's a rundown of loose words or phrases you can remove from your writing:

  • For the most part or For the purpose of:  These are empty phrases, don't use them.
  • Absolutely complete: Get read of “absolutely”
  • Each and every: "Each" is more than enough
  • Figure out: Bulky verb construction. Use guess or decide instead. 
  • Ask the question: "the question" is unnecessary
  • Very and basically: avoid these filler words  

If you want to check more than 200 other examples, review this list

Technique #4: Opt for concise phrases whenever possible

Language is a living thing, and there are many ways in which you can express the same idea. Given the chance, go for the phrase that is most concise, without losing any of the meaning you are trying to convey.

For instance, instead of using “at the present time”, use the more common word “now”. Or replace the convoluted “on the grounds that” with the unassuming simple “why”. These are just examples, but you can go a long way from here.

Technique #5: Eliminate passive voice

Passive voice is one of the closest friends of wordiness. Instead of following the natural flow of using first the subject followed by the verb, it creates unnecessary long phrases, in which the object becomes the main part.

Abhorred by literates and technical writers alike, passive voice must be eliminated, or at least reduced to a minimum in eLearning courses. It adds nothing to phrase value and it just bulks up your text.


Wordy: There are many ways in which we can classify plants.

Concise (don’t start sentences with "There are"): We can classify plants in many ways.

Technique #6: Be merciless with redundant content

Best things come in small packages, as an old saying goes. This is true for eLearning courses, as well, since too much of the essence is lost in a sea of words that do not belong there.

Eliminate anything that does not enrich the value of your text, such as:

  • Too many adverbs
  • Repetitions
  • Sophisticated words
  • Corporate speak

Delete all the redundant words you find and even phrases. Students will always prefer this type of concise content to flowery, unhelpful text.

Technique #7: Create short paragraphs

Long paragraphs are usually named ‘blocks of text’. The issue with these blocks is that they sit in the way of eLearning, like rocks fallen on a highway.

Think of your eLearning course in short, meaningful paragraphs. It is easier to maintain students’ attention by offering them the information they seek in an easy to follow format.


  • Keep each paragraph ideally between 3-6 lines
  • Break up text blocks that are longer than 6 lines
  • Introduce bullet points and subheadings  to add more white space.

elearning ebook


Karla Gutierrez
Karla Gutierrez
Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT. ES:Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

Related Posts

Four Ways to Create an Effective mLearning Strategy

Chief learning officers, learning leaders, and training coordinators everywhere are well aware of the need to increase mobile training programs. After all,  74% of employees say they access resources from their smartphones to do their jobs— and that number is expected to continue to grow. 

How to Design Microlearning Around Moments of Need

Let’s be honest: your employees use smartphones and tablets every day, everywhere — including in your workplace.

  • 8 min read
  • Thu, Jun 16, 2022 @ 04:44 PM

The Basics of Motivational eLearning Design

When we think of the word, motivation, instantly two things come to mind. First, when we are young, many outside things motivate us, a desire to do something, the reality of punishment from our parents, positive and negative reinforcement of what we are doing, etc. All of these things help to motivate children, and in some cases, it has a positive effect, and in other cases, it does not. The more proactive the motivation, the more positive the response to that motivation, the more reactionary the motivation, the more negative the response. The second picture that comes to mind is a learned reaction to something. Like Pavlov and his dogs, which would salivate when he rang the bell, motivation can be at times subconscious. However, there are much more things that drive the motivation of human beings, and in the arena of learning, there are some critical pieces to the puzzle that have to be developed so that learners feel the value of what they are learning and how it will benefit them. The rewards of their success must be considered from a variety of sources and satisfy them on a variety of levels, and as instructional designers of e-learning programs, we must not only understand these factors but be skilled in utilizing them in the courses that we design.