Say there is a very long article, I took it, then cut/shrink/excerpt it to a much shorter version.

What the proper way to express the meaning/action of cut/shrink/excerpt, but in a respectful way?

  • In what context? Without knowing what you're talking about, there's no indication that cutting is disrespectful in the first place. (In fact, I can't think of a context where it would be disrespectful.) – Jason Bassford Jul 5 '19 at 2:21
  • @JasonBassford, "I took the article from Wikipedia then cut it into the above shorter version" I know cut might sound perfectly fine to you but I just don't feel like to use it this way. Maybe the term "respectful"/"disrespectful" is a bit too hmm..., what's the word here, strong, but "cut" implies "something wrong" to me, at least being too spoken-language, I want to express in written-language, if that's what you meant. – xpt Jul 5 '19 at 2:42
  • Perhaps you're looking for "formal" rather than "respectful"? – Deolater Jul 5 '19 at 20:19
  • Good point @Deolater, I'll change it. – xpt Jul 6 '19 at 12:55

Abridge is a very formal word for this:

to shorten by omission of words without sacrifice of sense

However, in most contexts, I would prefer condense, which the linked definition lists as a synonym of abridge. Abridge is more of technical term used in the publishing industry.

  • Thanks a lot Max! That exactly answers what I'm asking for. However, I do normally wait for several days (for the community input) before making my selection. Thanks again. – xpt Jul 5 '19 at 12:38
  • Hi Max, could you expand on your saying "I'm partial to condense". I don't quite understand what you were trying to say, and looked it up and found one meaning of partial is "favoring one side in a dispute above the other; biased". Is that what you were trying to express? Please elaborate. – xpt Jul 6 '19 at 13:00
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    I prefer "condense" because "abridge" seems too formal for most contexts. You'll see some books advertised as "abridged editions," but at work I would more likely ask someone to "condense" or "cut down" a long document. – Max Jul 6 '19 at 13:27
  • Thanks a lot for your elaboration, Max, and welcome to ell.stackexchange with my +25. BTW, if you can update your answer with your new input, that'd be better, which is the norm of what people are doing. Thanks again. – xpt Jul 6 '19 at 16:57

The verb I would use in a conversation or email is simply to shorten the article. "Shorten" is a general verb, not specific to text, but it would be perfectly correct and understood from the context.

The verb abridge is specific to shortening text, but you would find it more commonly used as a base of the adjective "abridged" (and sometimes "unabridged") than as a verb in the active voice (see ngrams). It is indeed quite formal as noted in Max's answer.

You can find some other words that can be used based on these words in a thesaurus.

  • The reason I didn't list "shorten" in my OP is because it doesn't play well as drop-in replacement with phrases like "cut it short", or "cut to a shorter version" to me. Anyhow, Thanks for the explanation on "abridge" and all. Upvoting! – xpt Jul 6 '19 at 17:05

A synopsis or a summary are proper, respectful words describing a shorter version of a long text.

  • Thanks for the input, by "cutting", I did mean "cut shorter" (70~80% remains), not summarizing (only 10~20% remains, and in my own words too). – xpt Jul 5 '19 at 12:35

From a clarifying comment under the question:

"I took the article from Wikipedia then cut it into the above shorter version."

If you are taking a long piece of text and reducing to a smaller number of key points, I would say that you are summarizing it.

From summarize:

: to tell in or reduce to a summary
// I would like to take a moment to summarize the facts that I presented earlier.
// He summarized by saying we needed better planning and implementation.

And from summary:

especially : covering the main points succinctly

: an abstract, abridgment, or compendium especially of a preceding discourse

  • Thanks for the input, by "cutting", I did mean "cut shorter" (70~80% remains), not summarizing (only 10~20% remains, and in my own words too). – xpt Jul 5 '19 at 12:35

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