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Grad. Studies Home

"Empty" Words

Read these two sentences:
  1. Your readers' time is very valuable. It is important that you do not make them read a larger number of words than is really necessary.

  2. Your readers' time is valuable. Don't make them read more words than necessary.

Which of the two sentences above makes its point more clearly?

Most people will choose the second sentence. It works better because it focuses the reader on the important concepts without adding any "filler" words like "very"or "really."Padding may be helpful when you are packing a box of fragile ornaments, but it is not helpful when you are trying to express your ideas clearly and effectively.

Padded
Better
The reception was very long. The reception was long.
Yesterday's homework was really difficult. Yesterday's homework was difficult.
Working in the field of human services is rewarding. Working in human services is rewarding.
Depression is a difficult kind of problem to treat. Depression is a difficult problem to treat.
For all intents and purposes we have made the decision to close. We have decided to close.

Tip: Keep a list of the empty words you find yourself using, and when you edit, use the FIND command to look for any instances in your writing.