[QW12] Kathie’s ‘7 deadlies’: words to avoid in projects

by | Jun 19, 2021

[ Quick Win posts – QWs – are brief items to help non-overwhelm your day. Enjoy! ]


[ Executive summary: avoid overusing the words on the 2nd bulleted list. 🙂 ]

It doesn’t matter if we are authoring a technical manual, non-fiction book on X process, or a heartfelt tribute to a best friend.

Lacing our work with unnecessary ‘filler’ words can ruin a reader’s experience and our reputation, kill our editing budget, and trash our project’s timeline.

[QW12] Kathie’s ‘7 deadlies’: words to avoid in projects

When an editor calculates your project estimate, they’ll usually ask for an electronic copy of your entire file.

This allows them to

  • Get a general idea of the document’s completeness.
  • Randomly select a few pages for review.
  • Look for costly items hidden within the text.

I start with the third bullet point, using my ‘7 deadly words’ list as a first-run-through checklist.

These words can kill a project’s budget and timeline:

  • Actually
  • Also
  • Literally
  • Really
  • So
  • That (usually the worst offender)
  • Very

My seven ‘deadlies’ are rarely-needed words, and your editor will probably have a similar list.

Make sure you hire someone who will read every word in your document.

They won’t skim, scan, or have software check it for them.

Reading and fixing issues takes time, so budget the time for it.

I hope you found this Quick Win helpful.

All good editors read what you write instead of clicking the “Go” button on a glorified spell-checker and billing you.

Beware those who promise “30,000 words in 24-hours! Only $29.95!”
You’re probably paying for a button click.

Here’s a fun article where – yep!  – IIIIII  get caught using a ‘deadly’ word! Click here to enjoy.

‘Actually’ + ‘Literally’ = Yikes!

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I know you’re busy, and I appreciate your time.

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  1. Norman Phelps

    Actually, Kathie, that was literally the very best article I’ve read.
    So I really want to thank you. I’ve literally learned so very much.
    Take care. 🙂

    • Kathie York

      Oh, ha, ha, Norman!
      You got SIX of ‘em in there!

      I do find that, no matter where I hand out this information, it is much appreciated.

      Sometimes, it’s the little things that make our writing better.

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you had a chance to check out the other article I referenced. I can tell you’ll appreciate the humor 😎


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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
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