The Difference Between “Concise” and “Terse”

  • Concise means you take out unnecessary words. For example, write “daily,” not “on a daily basis.”
  • Terse means you take out too many words. Terseness introduces ambiguity.

Here’s an example of ambiguity caused by terseness:

The sign leaves out the possessive adjective that tells whose hands to wash. Readers shouldn’t have to pause to figure out what you mean. Say enough to remove ambiguity, but say no more.

This post first appeared on The Writing Rag.