Whack Extraneous Phrases from Your Writing

Whack Extraneous Phrases from Your Writing

This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips that help you write like a pro.

In their classic book The Elements of Style, Strunk and White called word clutter “the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood out of words.” Who wants that in their writing?

You can de-clutter your writing by questioning the use of these phrases that are often extraneous:

  • “it is all about”; “the fact of the matter is”; “the fact that”; “it’s important to remember that” e.g., The fact of the matter is that it’s unwise to go out carousing. Better: It’s unwise to go out carousing.
  • “in regard to” e.g., Seek additional websites in regard to your industry. Better: Seek additional websites in your industry.
  • “is going to” e.g., He is going to be a key contributor. Better: He will be a key contributor.
  • “there is” and “there will be” e.g., There will be many managers attending the meeting. Better: Many managers will attend the meeting.
  • “the reason why is that . . .” A simple “because” will suffice.

Your challenge: Take something you wrote and circle extraneous phrases that show up. Rework them or remove them altogether. You may decide to keep them, but first ask this question: “Do I really need this phrase?” (You don’t need “really” here.)


When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar. Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at www.WordTrippers.com.

Today’s Word Tripper:

Anxious, eager – “Eager” means exciting or enthusiastic. “Anxious” means full of anxiety or worry. “I’m eager to hear the details of your trip, but I have been anxious to learn about your travels ever since I heard about the airplane accident.”

Related posts from Barbara:

Barbara McNichol, Word TrippersBarbara McNichol works with business professionals to provide expert editing of nonfiction books and help them improve their writing skills. Over the past 22 years, she has placed more than 320 books on her editing “trophy shelf.”

On a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, she offers a monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen as well as a WordShop on Business Writing Essentials and her word choice guide Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters. Because she keeps tripping over more Word Trippers (pairs such as “except vs. accept” that get mixed up), she produces Word Tripper of the Week ezine (www.wordtrippers.com)

You can reach Barbara at 520-615-7910 or editor@barbaramcnichol.com and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Ask Barbara your questions using the comments below.

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