Tag: WRITING TIPS

I came across this gem on social media today. The mystery editor missed a few mistakes (bedroom is one word, built-in needs to be hyphenated, for example) but their efforts have drawn attention to the declining standard of advertising signage around Melbourne.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 1.59.47 pm

Here’s a more minor, but increasingly common one: unnecessary use of capital letters.

This example’s courtesy of ANZ (coincidentally, one of my clients). There’s no need for ‘bank’ to be capitalised in this instance (or many others, unless it refers to the name of a company).

IMG_7587

Then there’s my local fish and chip shop, which boasts about its owners being from long line of “fisherman”. Not just written in chalk on a sandwich board, mind you. The typo is emblazoned on numerous beautifully-designed, glass-framed advertising signs displayed at the shop, and throughout a nearby shopping centre.

These are minor issues – but they’re also simple to fix. The best communications stand out for the message they convey, rather than the way they’re written.

This article first appeared at prdaily.com. It is excellent and I heartily endorse it.

By Shanna Mallon

As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing.

When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need—such as the 10 included in this post:

1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.

2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.

3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.

4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.

5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference—but, when in doubt, cut it out.

6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise—but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.

7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).

8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.

9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.

10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.

Whether you’ve been writing for a few days or for many years, you’ll benefit from evaluating the words you use. Cut the filler to make your writing stronger.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, headquartered in Chicago providing specialised SEO, web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter.

Contact Jaclyn

Need my help on a project? Call me on 0438 921 019, or drop me a line below.

Name
Email
Message

Fantastic Message sent.
Error! Please validate your fields.
© Copyright 2014 Jaclyn McRae