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January 24, 2009


anne mette

I do I do see your point(s) and thanks for the reminder. But if I'm not careful I find myself writing 'now' and 'currently' to clients all the time. Explaining why we are currently awaiting x, now working on z... In the end more word fluff keeps me from repeating myself ALL of the time when the emails are more or less the same. Isn't that why we come up with all these extras?

Christine Smith

Thanks for this. The one I hate is "back in." For example, "Back in 2007." Why not just write: in 2007?


Or Although or Though with Altho/tho

Because with Becuz

With with w/

Without with w/o

I think you get the idea. =P

Made in DNA

You haven't seen optimal use of 140 characters until you have tried writing Twitter fiction. http://www.twitter.com/junkdnafiction

David B. Thomas

A useful list. Thank you. I've also found that "now" and "currently" are often superfluous. When you ask, "What time is it?" instead of "What time is it now?" people will assume you mean now. "We currently have four people on the team" is the same as "We have four people on the team."

my backyard

Great post, but did you realize there's a typo in your header? Lonliest instead of Loneliest? I know it's hard to proofread your own work.

my backyard

Also, "at this point in time" occurs twice in your list. Perhaps if you alphabetize future lists, you'd find it easier to catch repeats like this. Good luck! You're taking on a worthy cause in reducing wordiness.

Vasudev Ram

Good list - thanks. Came across it via Dave Winer's post on how Twitter improves your writing :)

One suggestion:

When "At this point in time" is used at the start of a sentence, replacing it with "right now" or "as of now" (instead of just "now") may be more suitable.

E.g. compare:

1. "At this point in time, the product works, but needs some improvement".


2. "Now, the product works, but needs some improvement".

and with

3. "As of now, the product works, but needs some improvement".

- Vasudev

Beverly Brown

Great advice! Reinforces my fav Strunk & White rule: "Omit needless words." Corollary from Mark Twain: "If you can catch an adjective, kill it!"

David Lewis

Sometime zero words is even better. For example...

"As of now, the product works, but needs some improvement"


"The product works, but needs some improvement"

Need I explain why this change works? ;-)))


You forgot the best one of all: replace 'having said that' with .


Supposedly superfluous words often serve a rhetorical purpose. They are often useful in spoken communication to provide needed rhythm. May not always be essential in written communication.

David's example of the use of "currently" in "We currently have four people on the team" may suggest the number may be different in the future or may have been different in the past. For instance, "we currently have four people on the team" but ... (unstated) ... "we plan on growing to be 100."

Weeding is a good thing, but keep your eyes open; not everything that looks like a weed actually is one.

Lisa Dale

This is a fantastic list. Thank you!

Japanese words

I find I do this in my writing all the time. When I read it again I always wonder why I make it so complicated.


Chopping down the wording isn't always a good thing. Without variety, the reader gets bored. Then they stop reading. Then their mind wanders. Then they go read something else less boring.

See my point? The english language has many words or phrases that mean the same thing, and using only one phrase or another makes life dull.

Jordan Jumpman

Always be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds, the last to criticize a colleague who fails.

Jordan 1

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Why "Word Wise"?

  • When I started to e-mail out a weekly writing tip to my Chicago colleagues at Edelman in 2002, little did I know how quickly how many people outside my office would start to request it. But word spread, as word is wont to do, and in 2006 the e-mail evolved into this blog. The tips, which are about grammar, usage and style, have a dual purpose – to remind my colleagues in PR of the power of the written word and, more generally, to support and perpetuate clear, concise, creative, honest, lively, stylish, compelling writing everywhere. In 2009 I started to add commentary about and links to stories and other blog posts related to the media, marketing, writing and, sometimes, just interesting stuff. For some reason, I also started Twittering (at SantowDan).