In this quick copywriting tip, you’ll see how removing fluff words makes your copy stronger and more conversational. When dealing with fluff words, like my mom always said, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Get rid of the fluff and you’ll no longer sound pompous and insecure (by using fancy words to look smart).
In just about every instance, you can remove the word “that” from your sentences. Instead of “He said that his lawyer helped him create a will” say “He said his lawyer helped him…”
This one sneaks in all the time in places it shouldn’t. Instead of “The contract of mine is on your desk” use a possessive statement like “My contract is on your desk.”
The ultimate fluff word. It does nothing good old “use” doesn’t do, and certainly doesn’t make you seem smarter. So strike out “utilize” and replace with “use” and you’ll have cleaner, tighter statements immediately.
Always replace “vehicle” with what it really is: a car, a truck, etc. Instead of “Lili took her vehicle to get washed” say “Lili washed her car.”
This common word has legitimate uses, however, in a sentence like “the shareholders gathered together to meet” it’s cumbersome. See how much clearer “the shareholders met” sounds?
TO BE (and it’s variations: IS, AM, ARE, WERE and WAS)
Make every effort to banish as many of these words as you can, sentence by sentence. Dropping “to be” and it’s variations isn’t easy, and you can’t get rid of them entirely, but when you do, your sentences come alive. “Kevin is running to the store” is passive and awkward. “Kevin ran to the store” is active and alive. Another indicator is to look for sentences beginning with “There are” or “There is” since you can always rewrite them more powerfully. When you eliminate “to be” and it’s variations, you’re forced to think about the sentence and improve your verbs.
So make an effort to tighten your copy with these guidelines, and sell better with clean, clear and powerful sentences.
Photo credit by Cieleke.