How to Reduce the Word Count of Your Research Paper

When you’ve got so much to say, keeping up with the word limit can be difficult. This is a problem faced by many writers and students. There was a time when anytime I began writing on a topic or a subject, and I often found myself exceeding the word limit by a mile. The reasons were abundant. The most prominent of them was, I had a lot to say but very little space to write it.

I decided to fix this problem. It turned out to be easier than I thought. I took some steps while writing and editing my work to ensure that the article did not seem too long and repetitive.

Do you suffer from a similar problem? Fret not. There’s a quick and simple fix to this. I have broken down my method of writing concisely into six simple points. As long as you follow these steps while writing and editing your manuscript, you will stick to the word limit and retain your content’s quality.

6 Ways to reduce the Word Count of your Research Paper

Remove all the unnecessary adverbs:

The use of adverbs should be limited. Not only do these adverbs augment the word count of your work, but using them way too often makes the content weak. This can adversely affect the point you are trying to make.

The most common examples of unnecessary adverbs are “extremely”, “very”, “really” and such other words that do not make much impact. Use these adverbs only when your research paper heavily demands it. See what I did there?

Avoid unnecessary repetition:

The one major thing I have noticed in most research papers is the repetition of words or sentences. This is something I used to do as well. I used to think if I repeated some of my sentences, it would make a more significant impact. It was quite the opposite.

They made my sentences long and weakened my argument. For example, “it should have a minimum of at least 500 words”, could be replaced by “it should have a minimum of 500 words”.

While proofreading your manuscript, notice if you paraphrase the same thing more than once. If yes, remove the redundancies. Each sentence of the paper should give new information. This will cut down your word count, and your readers will know that you have adequate knowledge of the subject.

Avoid making your sentences wordy:

Needless to say, using too many words to say a simple thing makes your content long. For example, instead of writing something like “in spite of the fact that I was unqualified for that position, I still applied for it”, you could write “although I was unqualified for that position, I still applied for it”.

Here, the same message is being conveyed, but fewer words are used. While proofreading and editing your paper, make sure to use the best Character Counter tool so that you can easily make the document within the word limit.

Write in Active Voice:

Writing in active voice has various advantages. The readers can relate to the content better. It makes writing the paper easy. Above all, you avoid using wordy sentences.

Active voice: We are going to watch a documentary today.
Passive voice: A documentary is going to be watched by us today

Passive voice tends to stretch the sentences. It also fails to make an impact, in contrast with Active voice.

Use abbreviations:

Abbreviations refer to a shorter version of a phrase. When a long-phrase is being used multiple times in the manuscript, use the elongated version once and then abbreviate it any time it comes up. For example, “small and medium-sized enterprises” could be written once. After that, “SMEs” should be written.

This tactic will limit your word count and convey the same message. As long as you apply the same method with all the phrases that can be abbreviated, you should be fine. You could also signify the abbreviation by putting it inside brackets the first time you use it.

Example: A lot of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suffered due to the pandemic.

Hyphenate the words at every opportunity:

Did you know that hyphenated words are counted as single words? If you didn’t, happy realization! When two words are joined by a hyphen, they become a single word. “Father in law”, could be written as “father-in-law”.

This can help you immensely in controlling the word count. However, hyphenating words is not as easy as one might think. In a lot of cases, people do not realize that some words could be hyphenated. In this case, you could take the help of online writing tools.


Learning the tricks of controlling your word count can be of excellent help in the long-run. I learned it the hard way. However, it does not have to be the same with you. If the above-mentioned tips are implemented well, you can come up with a concise and impactful research paper.