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Trimming Vals

>What is the best way to trim long leafed plants like most vals?  Can I
>just chop them off the top to the desired length, or should I remove the
>long leaves and allow new ones to replace them?

The best solution is to not choose plants that will outgrow your tank.
Failing that, removal of the whole leaf is a much better option.  If you
strat cutting them, the leaf ends just start to rot back slowly, and you
end up trimming further and further back to get rid of the rotted area.