As anyone who’s been to one our writing training courses knows, one of the key tenets of good writing is only to use as many words as you need. Check every word and phrase just to make sure it actually adds something to what you’re writing.
There are hundreds of stock phrases that we all use every day that don’t actually mean anything, or that could be expressed more simply and concisely without any loss of meaning.
Here are a couple of classic examples of unnecessary word use we came across recently:
per calendar month – are there any other kinds of month? Lunar month? Celestial month? It’s not like year, where there could be confusion over the financial year or the calendar year. There’s only one kind of month, so drop the calendar.
including but not limited to – by definition, including means not limited to. You don’t need to explicitly state it again. Including means ‘here are a few examples, but there are others’. It is not saying, ‘here is the definitive list and nothing else counts’.
So next time you find yourself reaching for one of those easy, familiar phrases that we all use without even thinking about it, just take a second to check if there’s a better way of saying it.