Secateurs-pruning-a-tree

We prune our trees to keep them healthy.

Cutting off the dead and overgrown branches makes the rest of the tree stronger.

This is a good analogy for editing, because removing dead words and sentences does the same for your copy, making it more powerful and effective.

Three good reasons to prune your copy

  1. It shortens your copy and makes it more readable
  2. It makes your message clearer and more compelling
  3. It keeps your readers engaged and interested.

Six things you can cut from your copy to make it stronger

1. Cut the extraneous details

We’re all guilty of adding details to our copy that later seem irrelevant. The trick is to find and remove them when you edit your piece.

Cutting them out will streamline your copy and strengthen your message.

Remove anything that doesn’t:

  • Add value
  • Make a valid point
  • Stick to the topic
  • Support your message
  • Strengthen your case.

2. Cut the waffle

You don’t get extra credit for using more words than you need to, so keep it concise and don’t use several words where one or two would suffice.

For example:

  • In order to — just use ‘to’
  • This is a subject which — just use ‘this subject’
  • Due to the fact that — just use ‘because’
  • With regard to — just use ‘regarding’
  • In the event that — just use ‘if’.

3. Cut the long sentences

Long sentences can be convoluted and difficult to read, so split them up with full stops and add punctuation.

To identify which ones are too long, try reading your copy aloud. 

4. Cut the non-specific words

Indefinite words make your writing sound woolly and vague. 

Examples include:

  • A bit
  • Kind of
  • Like
  • Rather
  • Really
  • Reasonably
  • Somehow
  • Somewhat
  • Very

5. Cut the ‘crutch’ words

‘Crutch’ words are supporting words. You might have been tempted to add them to make your copy sound more sophisticated, but they’re not necessary.

  • Actually
  • Basically
  • Essentially
  • Generally
  • Just
  • Literally
  • That
  • Totally

6. Cut the unnecessary punctuation

Punctuation plays an important role in your writing, but make sure you only use it where it’s needed. Overuse can be distracting and interrupt your flow.

Do your business communications need a copy editor?

If you need someone to prune your communications and make them stronger, I can help.

I’m a freelance copywriter and copy editor based in Leicestershire, UK.

You can find out more about me and how I can help you improve your business communications, on my website

Image by: Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay