BZ Buzz

Common Words to Avoid in Your Writing

Frustrated man tearing stack of papers in half, with paperwork flying through air behind himIt’s easy to fall into the trap of writing in the same manner or style that we talk, and this can lead to lazy or sloppy word choice. Many of the words we use in our day to day conversations are superfluous, redundant, or downright incorrect when putting pen to paper. Jennie Haskamp at has put together an excellent list of 15 words that we should all try to avoid when writing, an informative and quick read that can be found here: I highly recommend giving her full list a look, but here are some brief thoughts on a few of the words on her list that I particularly agree with:

That: Removing “that” from writing is the advice I give most often when asked to read or proof the writing of others. It’s my best and quickest tip to improve your writing, bar none. Not only is it usually superfluous, it also makes for a weak and generic pronoun.

Always / Never: Both of these are more risky than they are useful, as speaking in absolutes easily opens the writer up to criticism from those with opposing views. Both of these absolute cases are also rarely true, and therefore rarely useful.

Literally: This point has been somewhat beaten to death by numerous similar articles, but until its widespread misuse abates it will continue to bear repeating—”literally” should not be used for emphasis, it should be used to describe something that actually happened. Rarely are you literally starving, dying, or losing your mind. If any of those are literally happening, it might be time for you to take a short break from writing.

Read the rest of the 15 words to avoid here:

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