Advertising / Public Relations

10 Words to Strike from Your Copy

Words to remove from your vocabulary
The copy you write to describe your business has the power to intrigue or repel. Word choice is incredibly important, so with the help of our community I’ve put together a list of words that you should ditch today to keep your copy fresh.

Really – This is a tired adverb that can easily be substituted for a multitude of more powerful words.
Use instead: truly, extremely

Just – This word undermines anything that comes after it. “I’m just emailing to check on whether you’ve completed the report” implies that completing that report is not that pressing. It is a word that we often use as a crutch in our writing and serves little purpose.
Use instead: nothing – most copy will easily stand alone without use of the word.

Very – See “really” above.

Believe – Someone once recently told me to never use the word believe unless I was talking about God. While I find it impossible to always use the verb “know” in my discussions, there are other words that are stronger replacements for believe.
Use instead: forecast, foresee, predict, know. 

Guru – The startup community has beaten this word to death. You can be an expert, a seasoned professional, a thought leader, a pundit, or an authority. Please leave the word guru for its original purpose: a Hindu spiritual leader.
Use instead: expert, a seasoned professional, a thought leader, a pundit, or an authority.

Literally – While in its true form the use of this word is completely justified, the Kardashians of the world have ruined it for the rest of us. Avoid using this word unless you absolutely have to as it elicits the image of valley girls and their caramel lattes.
Use instead: actually, truly 

Honestly – I never had an issue with this adverb until my husband pointed out that my use of it was completely unnecessary. If it was a necessary word, that would imply that my other statements were dishonest.
Use instead: Nothing, just ditch it.

Unique – Not much is unique these days. The irony is that this word is so widely used it’s become commonplace for a word that’s meant to describe the uncommon.
Use instead (only if these words TRULY apply to what you are describing): unparalleled, incomparable, unconventional.

Bespoke – I’m not going to offer replacements for this one, as I quite like the word, but I will offer some notes. Bespoke refers to something that is tailored specifically for someone. It does not mean upscale, which is what it is being used interchangeably with these days. Only use this word if your product is actually customized to your clients.

Revolutionary – There are revolutions happening all over the world at the moment. Your new skin cream is not one of them.
Use instead: progressive, advanced, innovative

On top of these ten words, I’d also recommend not falling for the trap of overusing trendy words that are present in your industry. While we all do draw inspiration from industry peers, a lack of creativity tends to lead to mundane copy that is indistinguishable from our competition’s.

What words would you add to this list?


6 thoughts on “10 Words to Strike from Your Copy

  1. Pingback: 10 Words to Strike from Your Copy | The Seed Planter

      • I teach Communications and English classes to Community College students in rural Alabama. Human Communication, Fundamentals of Public Speaking, and General Composition classes- Thank you for helping me gather relevant material they can identify with. It makes all the difference in the world. Thank you! They will really appreciate that you replied and so do I. Rural Alabama sometimes feels like we are isolated- in a time warp.


  2. Pingback: Understanding the 4Ps of Marketing | The Marketing Spark

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