Cutting the Clutter in Your Writing: One Way to Eliminate Extra Words

When you’re writing, ask yourself “If words cost money, would I spend my money on this word?” While you might not be literally spending actual money on words, you are spending something else – your audience’s attention – which is far more precious.

 

Here are some phrases that take up unnecessary space:

 

Alternative Choices

Basic Fundamentals

Serious Crisis

Past Experience

Final Outcome

End Result

Future Plans

Two Halves

Regular Weekly Meetings

Absolutely Complete

10am in the Morning

Important Essentials

 

Did these often used phrases give you a chuckle?   While its common to hear someone say “in my past experience…” it’s easy to see the redundancy in the written form when you see both “past” and “experience." Pick one.  Isn’t it obvious 10am is in the morning? Couldn’t it be assumed that all crises are also serious?

Carefully choosing our words isn’t just for high-stakes conversations or tense situations. Today’s audience – whether a customer reading directions or an employee understanding a new HR policy – spends its most valuable commodity – its time and attention – on the words we choose. Take a moment to reflect on the words you’re using. Can you say the same thing in fewer words?  If so, do so.

 

Your audience will thank you -- with their time and attention.

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