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5 More Empty Words

Tight business writing leaves out unnecessary words. Our Business Writing That Counts! webinars can help you learn to choose words that make your writing concrete and avoid words that add nothing to your message or of value to readers. Consider these 5 empty words:

Basically. Use of this word is wrong on many levels. First, if you are outlining basic information, there is no reason to rub your readers' faces in it. If it's basic, it should be so because you are writing at the right level about a topic for your audience. Another reason this word is empty is that it's usually not necessary. For example, you might say, "we basically identified three employees who would be the best candidates for the promotion." Identify is a clear and precise verb on its own. I can't think of a basic way to identify; I just identify, and it's done!

Currently. Currently (and its close friend, presently) might be happening now, but are empty. If you are writing now, the information is current. A verb implies current action, so if you are "currently reviewing the document," isn't it just as correct to say, "we are reviewing the document"? If you already reviewed it, that's different. But instead of saying "recently," tell exactly when you reviewed if relevant and possible.

Very. This empty word crutch needs to go away – and very soon (ahem, or now, today, immediately, you get the picture). Instead of qualifying how "very" important, fun, or boring something is, choose a more descriptive word, such as: critical or significant; enjoyable, hilarious or a blast; tiresome or monotonous.

Great. Here's another empty superlative. Just ask yourself, "Why is this great?" Is it thorough, delightful, accurate, just what you asked for? Concrete writing requires more than a vague adjective. Don't go overboard with multisyllabic or flowery words but choose words that really depict and create a picture of your meaning.

Obviously. Like basically, use of the word "obviously" borders on insulting. Either you insult the reader by insinuating he or she should know this, or worse, you show you are wasting readers' time by stating the obvious. If you must clarify or give background information that might be obvious, don't say so. Put it in parentheses or cover it briefly, or maybe add a sidebar with background. Otherwise, don't state the obvious and never state that you're stating the obvious!

Empty words carry even more burdensome weight when they pepper business writing that should be the most concise, such as subject lines, headlines and social media posts. Cut to the chase and cut empty words from your writing. Let us help you refine and tighten your writing. Contact us now about our webinars and online course topics, or call 425-485-3221.


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