Writing: More specific is better until it’s not

Investment commentary writers often struggle to make their writing more concise. Sometimes being more precise helps.

How to do it

Here’s a before-and-after example:

BEFORE: Value stocks outperformed growth stocks in the last month of the quarter.

AFTER: Value stocks outperformed growth stocks in June.

See the difference? I find many examples like this when I compile and edit fund performance commentary for my asset management clients.

The flip side

On the other hand, commentary writers sometimes go overboard with specificity. One of my pet peeves is excessive references to the quarter under discussion.

If you name the quarter in the beginning of your paragraph, and you don’t change periods, there’s no need to repeat “the third quarter” in every sentence. The repetition is boring. It also uses up space that could be spent on meaningful discussion of the drivers of performance.

What do YOU suggest?

You’ve probably read investment commentary that could benefit from greater specificity. What are your suggestions in this area?