As a public relations and journalism major, there is one thing that I have learned to do, and that is simply to de-clutter my writing.
Writing for social media outlets, newspapers, e-mails and essays all have one thing in common: keep it short and sweet, yet descriptive and detailed. People want the story, the facts.
We have all had to write those dreaded research papers or meet some sort of word count. We eventually run out of information and begin to “fluff up” and colorize our papers with unnecessary words.
Want to keep it simple? Want to give your message and your paper more meaning? Want to make your paper more collegiate? Avoid these overused words.
- Amazing: Yes, “amazing” is a great descriptive word, but only for certain situations. This word has been overused so many times that it really has lost its luster and appeal. Look for a synonym to be more creative. Is everything really amazing?
- Awesome: This goes hand-in-hand with the word amazing. It’s been so overused that “awesome” is boring. It’s not descriptive enough, and can be viewed as a sarcastic response to something.
- Maybe: When writing a paper, particularly an opinion paper, you want to try to avoid this word. “Maybe” sounds like you are unsure of your answer. Why? Just be straightforward.
- Very: This is often used for emphasis of something. However, “very” is very vague. For example: “The weather was
verycold today.” Cross it out. It’s not needed and is definitely not the most descriptive word out there. Try thinking of another word that may impress your professors.
- Perhaps: I am so guilty of using this word too much. Perhaps, like maybe, just goes to show that you’re not sure of your answer. It almost indicates a question in the reader’s mind that says, “Are they confident about their response?”
- Just: In my opinion, this word is simply a filler for a sentence. It doesn’t particularly add anything, so why bother putting it in?
- Really: Another common word that we’re all guilty of using too much. Similar to “very,” this word is used for emphasis, yet completely lacks emphasis altogether. There are much better words to describe something. It’s a weak word.
- Literally: This word kind of annoys me. It adds absolutely nothing to a sentence. What’s the difference between “I literally drove all night,” or, “I drove all night?”
- Like: I know “like” is used for comparison, but it is to the point where it’s so overused these days. Starting a sentence off with “like” is a big NO simply because it sounds a bit immature.
- Good: “Good” isn’t great at all. It’s non-descriptive, non-informative, and it leaves the reader lacking information.
Avoiding these words will help improve the quality of your paper. I know that it is so tempting to use them, but seriously, put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Do you want to keep their attention? Do you want them to get the gist of the story without looking for more? Be creative! Look for synonyms that make the reader visualize what your paper is all about.