23 Words To Avoid In Your Writing [Infographic]

23 Words To Avoid In Your Writing [Infographic]

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.

[Via GlobalEnglishEditing]


  • I applaud Lifehacker’s ability to sneak in a photo of a smoking hot female in the post header at every opportunity.

  • For a professional editing and proofreading service, how’d they let the errors in numbers 9 and 15 get past their filter? (Incorrect instance of words crossed out)

  • Geez, these rules cut far too much. Most all of them are perfectly reasonable as long as they’re not used excessively, and some of them specifically reduce specificity. I hope you guys don’t plan on following this stuff Chris, clinical minimalist writing is far too impersonal and personality makes a big difference to reader engagement.

  • The example for 7 doesn’t make sense unless you add another word to make up for the one being crossed out… And that’s where the infographic lost me

  • “This addictive desk toy helps you burn off that excess energy and hone in on your to-dos the healthy way.”
    Home in…. or hone (sharpen)

    Whoever wrote that one should be putting a carton in the life hacker fridge.

  • What’s with all the booby clickbait recently?

    “The person called didn’t leave a message”.

    What was their name!?

    It is my opinion that

    If you can’t use an informal contraction you will need the differentiation between personal and professional.

  • At the start of a paragraph, “so” MAY be justified by the contents of the previous paragraph.
    first paragraph details a problem [the troubles I had booking a flight].
    second paragraph describes a solution [so I’m taking a train instead]

    Starting a whole story with “so” is bad.
    So don’t do it.

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