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Quotations about Brevity

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It is with words as with sunbeams.  The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.  ~Robert Southey

Good things, when short, are twice as good.  ~Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books - what other men do not say in whole books.  ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.  ~Thomas Jefferson

My great-grandfather used to say to his wife, my great-grandmother, who in turn told her daughter, my grandmother, who repeated it to her daughter, my mother, who used to remind her daughter, my own sister, that to talk well and eloquently was a very great art, but that an equally great one was to know the right moment to stop.  ~Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.  ~William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style, 1918

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.  ~Dennis Roth

The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.  ~Blaise Pascal, translated from French, Lettres Provinciales, XVI, 1656

In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.  ~Sydney Smith

If you bring that sentence in for a fitting, I can have it shortened by Wednesday.  ~M*A*S*H, Hawkeye, "The Gun"

"In good prose (says Schlegel) every word should be underlined!" that is, every word should be the right one; and then no one would be righter than another.  There are no italics in Plato.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

He replies nothing but monosyllables.  I believe he would make three bites of a cherry.  ~Rabelais, Pantagruel

Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there.  ~Branch Rickey

If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply.  Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.  ~Lord Sandwich

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.  ~Dorothy Parker

If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don't have a clear idea.  ~David Belasco

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Last modified 2023 Sep 05 Wed 11:27 PDT

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