By now you may have seen the article circulating on social mediaabout the one word that can damage your credibility. If you haven't, take a moment and give it a read - especially if you're a woman.
Full disclosure: I catch myself using the word just all the time, both verbally and in my writing. This has always bothered me because I know it's redundant, but this article provided good food for thought about why we (women especially) use it, and the weight it carries.
And it got me thinking about other words that we can do without. There are several redundant words that your writing is better off without. As harmless as they may seem, these words "weigh down" a piece, making it clunkier and more cumbersome to read. A concise article (or email, social media post, etc) free of unnecessary words is infinitely easier and more pleasant to read than a wordy one.
So what are some other problem words? The three I edit out most often - and you should too! - are:
My approach (and the advice I give to others) is to write your first draft without worry about redundancies or other grammatical imperfections. Then, go back afterwards and tidy them up. This is a good practice to follow even for simple, everyday communications.
It's a small step that takes only a minute or two, but one that can have a big impact. In the words of William Zinsser in On Writing Well, "examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose."
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.