Spelling and grammar are the cornerstones of professional writing: but that’s only half the battle won. To really make your writing shine, you need to avoid cliches, fluff, nondescript adverbs, redundant phrases, purple prose and filler words. This infographic from GlobalEnglishEditing lists 23 phrases you need to pull back on, along with suggested alternatives.
Confession time: the staff at Lifehacker are guilty of most of these, myself included. So spare us your snarky “author+phrase” Google search results in the comments – we already know!
I also don’t agree with every one of these supposed writing faux pas – the idea that “less is always more” is entirely dependent on the style of the article and the established “voice” of the writer. You wouldn’t ask Charlie Brooker to lose his superfluous asides, for example.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking to declutter your everyday writing, this cheat sheet is worth a look. As the William Strunk Jr quote on the accompanying blog post explains:
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
It’s hard to disagree with that. Check out the infographic below for tips on how to effectively capture your readers’ attention and keep them interested from start to finish.