Journalism 101: Omit Verbal Deadwood

 

“EFFECTIVE WRITING IS CONCISE. Cut out the unnecessary words. Every word should tell. There is no reason to call a spade ‘a long handled instrument for turning earth in the garden.’

“Here are some examples of verbal deadwood drawn from Asian newspapers and inter-office memoranda:

            for the reason that                      -           because
            at the present time                      -           now
            tendered his resignation           -           resigned
            affixed his signature                   -           signed
            told his listeners                           -           said
            united in Holy matrimony       -           married
            used for fuel purposes               -           fueled
            held a conference                        -           met
            in the immediate vicinity         -           near
            was able to make his escape    -           escaped


“In the following samples, the words in italics should be omitted.

advanced prediction
fatal killing
definitely decided
new recruits
other alternative
free gift
a period of two weeks
past history
final conclusion
dead body

“The rule is: chop out the verbal deadwood. You’ll save on newsprint and stationery.”

Source: The Community Newspaper. Press Foundation of Asia; Manila, Philippines; December 1990, p. 41.

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