When you write copy it’s important to make every word, even every character, count. If you’re a professional, your client has a goal that they want your writing to achieve. Words that don’t pull their weight need to be out of there. If you’re a business owner, and you insist on writing your own copy, the same is true.
Here are 5 words that you can safely scrub out, plus some advice on what to write instead. Now, I’m guilty of not always adhering to these rules, especially on a first draft. I’ll probably end up breaking a few of them in this piece. Nobody’s perfect. Put it down to the ‘conversational style‘ I’m always going on about.
Word 1 – Very
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain
Very is a word that people write when they have nothing better to say. Use more powerful words to illustrate your point. Rather than saying ‘it was very cold’, instead say ‘it was freezing’.
Words 2 – Adverbs
When I was at school using adverbs in your writing was encouraged. However, when I write copy, adverbs take up valuable space and distract the reader.
Again, use more illustrative words in your writing. Instead of saying ‘I walked home slowly’, say ‘I dawdled home’.
Words 3 – Many / Few / Frequently / A lot
The problem with these type of words is that they’re in the eye of the beholder. One man’s ‘many’ is another man’s ‘not much’.
Be precise. Give your reader specific information. Instead of saying ‘I walked past a lot of sheep’, say ‘I walked past 10 sheep’.
Word 4 – That
There are two types of ‘that’s. Ones that you need and ones you don’t. After you’ve written a sentence with ‘that’ in it, read it back to yourself without ‘that’ in it. If your sentence still makes sense, you don’t need it.
Rather than ‘the delivery that I ordered is here’, say ‘the delivery I ordered is here’.
Words 5 – Maybe / Can / Could / Perhaps / Up to
My main bugbear in writing. Writers hedging their bets. These words create uncertainty in your reader, often on purpose. How often do you read about a product that ‘could save you up to £2000 a year’? When you write copy, make statements you can stand behind. Make the reader believe in your product.
I hope you found this list useful. I may write another ‘more words you don’t need’ list if this receives the required comments and shares. Please let me know what you think. What words, or groups of words, are not necessary in copy?