Remove (Unnecessary) Words

by Danielle Cooley

Sometimes Less Content is as easy as fewer words. I was excited to find this list of 20 phrases you can replace with one word. (Thanks to Deborah Edwards-Onoro for sharing that link!)

Last summer, I was on a plane next to a man who was working on a lengthy proposal. He was working on one paragraph for most of the flight. He was stuck in overwording hell, and he couldn't get out of that mindset. (Not an uncommon problem when you have been working on something for a long time, I'm sure.) I gave him a few suggestions here and there, but after a while I just asked for his laptop. He was so frustrated that he happily handed it over. I copied & pasted his paragraph (to preserve the original) and then edited it down to about half of its original length, mostly by using suggestions like the one in the link above. My neighbor was thrilled with the end result, which was so much simpler and easy to understand on the first reading. 

Mostly, I was sad I couldn't do the same for the rest of his document. I hope he saw the value of simple wording and plain language and applied it to the rest of his editing efforts.

How about you? Any great stories about cutting copy for the better?