When writing great content, remember that your audience needs clarity from what you’re saying. If you have loads of filler and fluff in your sentences and paragraphs, they can end up giving the opposite of this.
Readers end up bored. Your ideas end up complicated and your message gets watered down.
With the advent of instant information, your readers now have shorter attention spans, with most just scanning the text for information.
While this list is nowhere near comprehensive, it does include the common culprits that are added as fluff. Remember to ask yourself “If this needed?” when you’re using them, if the answer is “No”, cut them out.
In order to
This is a commonly used phrase, that doesn’t need to be used at all. In most cases it can be completely cut out of the sentence and the sentence will still work (If it can’t be cut in its entirety, it can be replaced with “to”). While this is a small change, it can help add clarity to your sentence.
For example, “In order to get to work on time, leave early” can be changed to “Leave early to get to work on time” or “To get to work on time, leave early”
“Really” does nothing to add description, if something is “really important” or a job needs to be signed off “really fast”. Just think, how important is it? Is it the number one thing you need to know about? Is it your number one selling item?
Readers want to know how much, sometimes by using actual figures what really is. If you feel that you can’t be any more descriptive, then delete “really”.
Believe and think
Are you sure of what you’re saying? By adding words such as believe and think, you’re casting doubt on yourself. “I think product A is better than product B” and “I believe this is the best option for you” makes it sound like you’re not at all sure about it. Your readers are more interested in hard facts and figures rather than opinions.
Don’t include anything that could be interpreted in a way other than the way you intend it to be.
This is really similar, to, well, “really”. It’s too vague compared to what your readers want. By saying “Our processes are a lot different to how they once were.” Doesn’t tell the reader how they’re different and why that’s a good thing for them. By giving them more specific information it can lead to them making better informed decisions.
In the same way as “really” replace “a lot” with cold, hard facts. Quantify exactly what “a lot” is. Think of it in terms of “A lot of money”, ask a poorer person and they’ll say £500, ask a rich person and they’ll say £100,000, it’s interpreted differently compared to who’s reading it.
“That” may not seem as bad as the other words here, but it can still be meaningless in your sentences. “It just wasn’t that good”, what exactly does “that” add here? Nothing, you can remove it and make the sentence more impactful “It just wasn’t good”
Often people misuse “literally”, “In literally every blog I read, it’s literally everywhere”.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, literally actually means, "exactly":
in a literal manner or sense; exactly.
Now re-read the sentence with exactly in it “In exactly every blog I read, it’s exactly everywhere”. It makes no sense at all. Remove it and replace it with something more meaningful.
Completely and entirely
More of the time, these can be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence. In order to visualise completeness, use more descriptive terms. “The cup was filled to the brim with water” sounds a lot more impactful that “The cup was completely filled with water”.
“Often” is oftenly used in order to say the frequency of something. But think “how often” is often? It could be that something happens twice a year, or three times a week. Being exact is much better for your readers, it gives them a more comprehensive understanding of what’s being talked about.
As a matter of fact, the fact of the matter
“As a matter of fact” you can remove the “fact of the matter”, both of these highlight that a point is about to be made. There are more creative ways of doing this.
These are just some examples of words and phrases that can be removed from your writing without removing any of the meaning. Making a few changes like this can improve your writing and make it seem as though you know what you’re talking about.
If you have any examples of writing that you think could be improved upon, share them with us Twitter (@RosebladeMedia), or on Facebook.