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Proofread to Prevent Repetition

When you Take Your Writing to the Next Level, you learn not to stop as soon as you finish composing an email message, report, or other important business writing. The last stage is equally — if not more — important. That's proofreading.

When you proofread, you catch typos and grammar issues that a computer editing system misses. But even more, you refine your writing by making sure it is clear and follows a logical path. In addition, you can spot trends such as overuse of certain words and repetition of phrases or points.

Keyword Stuffing

So much of today's business writing involves tags and keywords. These aid search engines and social media sites in listing your posts and sites up in searches. It helps to learn where and when those keywords should appear (like early in the text). But you also need to get a handle on a problem that causes overuse of keywords to backfire.

Keyword stuffing refers to unnecessary repetition of words of phrases, especially if you use them out of context. Search engines (and readers) are savvy enough to spot use of keywords that aren't relative to the topic or loaded onto a page. Special software can help you and your company's business writers measure keyword density for effective use of keywords (generally no more than about 2 to 3 percent of total words).

This can be tough if, for example, you are writing about your new microwave oven. How many different ways are there to say, "microwave oven"? Well, sometimes you can replace it with "appliance," "unit," or simply "oven." Do so in context, so that the sentence already implies the microwave oven is the subject of the text. You also can use pronouns such as "it" or "they" when plural. Again, be sure not to cause confusion about the subject of the pronoun: "This microwave oven meets all industry safety standards; it also surpasses standards for energy efficiency" makes the subject clear.

Just Too Much

Repeated words and phrases not only tick off popular search engines but can turn off readers. Start by avoiding overused words, which usually are vague anyway. Examples of these are "still," "though," and "use." Turn vague verbs into action words and paint a picture by varying nouns and adjectives. Turn this: "Though the cold weather led to increased energy use…" into: "With the wintry weather, homeowners' energy consumption set records…" It's OK to rely on your software's or bookshelf's Thesaurus, but avoid the temptation to "synonym stuff" or alter meaning or tone with uncommon vocabulary.

Rotate names of places (Seattle, with "the city") and other nouns (xxx product or service with "product," "new introduction," "unit," "service"). This keeps your writing more interesting and "prettier" to readers' ears.

How to Spot Repetition

Proofread by reading aloud if necessary, or at least in your head, as you would if reading to an audience. This helps you identify repetition, especially located closely in text. You also can use the "find" or "search" feature in your word processing software to search words that might appear too often. Go through some of the sentences and replace words in a sensible way throughout the document. For concerns about keyword stuffing, use the search function and word count to estimate your keyword density, or invest in SEO software. Most will provide notes or color keys to guide you.

Learn to refine your writing and avoid repetition with our professional coaching, licensing program, online courses and webinars, all designed to help you become more adept at business writing. Call us at (425)-485-3221 to learn more.


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