Whether you’ve exceeded your word count or not, long sentences and paragraphs should be edited because they can be trickier to read, and risk being boring or hard to follow.
Going on about a particular point for too long can actually undermine the strength of your argument, because it makes you look as though you’re desperately grappling to find supporting facts; sometimes a simple, clear statement with a brief piece of evidence to back it up is all that’s needed.
You should be equally wary of repetition of words within the same sentence or paragraph.
Avoid long paragraphs by starting a new one if you find one getting longer than three or four sentences: a wall of text can be off-putting to the reader.
Leave a space between paragraphs if you’re typing your essay, as we’re doing in this article.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use more complex words at all – just choose the situation carefully and don’t overdo it.
It’s easy to repeat yourself without realising it when you’re writing, but the editing process is there to enable you to spot this before your teacher or lecturer sees it.
The thing is, it doesn’t always make you look intelligent; you may, for instance, inadvertently choose the wrong synonym, not realising that even close synonyms can have subtly different meanings or connotations.
Sometimes using big words where simple ones would suffice can seem contrived and pompous; aim for clear, concise language to avoid being verbose or pretentious.
As you read through your essay, keep a look out for ideas you’ve repeated and delete whichever repetitions add nothing to your essay (don’t forget that the first instance of the idea may not be the most appropriate place for it, so consider which is the best moment to introduce it and delete the other mentions).
On a related note, look out for instances in which you’ve laboured the point.