3 phrases you should delete every time you type them

In all the content work I do with our clients, the same phrases keep cropping up over and over.

This language is insidious. Read it enough, and soon you’ll start writing it.

And guess what, the inclusion of these phrases is making your user experience worse. 😱

So this is a reminder, to you and to myself, of a better way to go.

1. “has been established to”

I’ve had the joy of deleting this phrase in my OWN work TWICE today. Governments especially love to pepper this phrase throughout their content.

But look, it’s redundant. It’s ALWAYS redundant.

Firstly, it’s passive. Ain’t nobody got time to read that.

Secondly,

“This committee has been established to create opportunities for the public to…”

means EXACTLY the same thing as

“This committee creates opportunities for the public to…”

And you know what’s even better?

“We help you…”

2. “in order to”

Again, redundant!

Replace “in order to” with just “to” and your readers will actually be able to scan your content.

Which we all know is what they really want to do.

Replace:

“This program helps people find work in order to improve their financial stability.”

With:

“This program helps people find work to improve their financial stability.”

And hey, if you want to be really radical, try:

“We improve your finances by helping you find meaningful work.”

3. “demonstrates that”

Here I’ll borrow from the best writing advice ever: show, don’t tell.

If I ever feel the need to tell my reader that A demonstrates B, I probably just haven’t done a good enough job of… well, actually demonstrating it.

This is tricky, as it’s not purely a content issue. This can also be a service design issue.

How does this feel?

“This committee demonstrates our dedication to this issue.”

Sounds a bit hollow, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be better to show your users your dedication by offering genuine, user-centred services that produce tangible results, and then communicating them?

In which case, the content writer’s job becomes a lot easier, because there’s actually something to communicate.

Imagine this instead:

“Over 8000 people now have savings in their bank accounts. Because they found meaningful, long-term work.”

Better, right?