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When your target audience are reading your content, do you think they may often be cringing at some of the sentences you’ve written? Editing yourself is an important skill which not many writers master.

However, one of the easiest writing flaws to spot is using too many words that don’t really add to the meaning of the sentence.

Short, Sharp, Scannable Writing

One of the first things to consider when writing content online is that people are reading on a screen. It might be a small mobile one, or a wide desktop one. The wider it is, the harder it can be to follow the chain of thought as their eyes go from one side of the screen to the other. Short sentences ensure people won’t get lost. Cutting out unnecessary words also helps them understand what is being expressed.

Too Much Information

In many cases, the cluttering words are not needed. A good example would be “8 PM in the evening.” PM already tells us it is at night. “Exact replica” is another case of saying the same thing twice. Replica already tells us it is an exact copy.

Adjectives and Adverbs

These can often be filler words we think are powerful, but are actually pretty weak. You can say “very hot,” but why not use a vivid word like “scalding” or “roasting”? “I’m very hungry,” is much stronger when expressed as “I’m starving,” or “I’m famished.”

In terms of adverbs, try to avoid, “All of a sudden.” “Suddenly” is fine.Try to express the abruptness of what happens through your choice of words. “The man barged through the door. I jumped back, dropping my clipboard with a clatter.”

“Totally” and “Completely”

These also don’t add the intensity we think they will. “I was completely full after the wonderful meal,” might be better as, “I was so full after our anniversary dinner, I had to undo my belt two notches.”

“The suitcase was totally full,” might be better as, “The suitcase was stuffed, nearly bursting at the seams.”

“Amazing” and “Awesome”

These words are completely overused these days, and should be avoided. They add little additional information and just seem like lazy writing or trite clich├ęs that every other writer is using.

“Then”

Then is overused when writing about a sequence of events. In a story, it is understood that things are not all happening at exactly the same time, but one by one – often as a result of cause and effect. Adding the word “and” on occasion can help things flow more smoothly.