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Superfluous words to cut from your content

By July 22, 2019October 19th, 2020No Comments

Many of us are guilty of overcomplicating our copy, whether through use of popular phrases, excessive words or laziness.

If you want to attract more readers, write in a way that’s easier for people to understand.

Here’s a guide to cutting out superfluous words and keeping your message on track.

superfluous words

Tedious tautologies

Why say something twice when you can say it once and be understood?  Tautologies are words that repeat the meaning of another word in an expression. They mean exactly the same thing. (Just like I did there!)

Recognise any of these commonly used tautologies? Give yourself a black mark for each one you regularly use in your writing:

  • Basic necessities
  • Brief summary
  • Completely surrounded
  • Current trend
  • Each and every
  • Empty space
  • Free gift
  • Absolutely sure / essential / necessary
  • Close proximity
  • Exactly the same
  • Prior experience
  • New innovation
  • Temporary reprieve
  • Personal opinion
  • Future plans
  • Close scrutiny
  • Combine together

Plodding pleonasms

Words which add nothing extra to a sentence are termed pleonasms. Here are a few examples to give you the gist:

  • Veer off course
  • Tuna fish
  • Hear with my own ears
  • True fact
  • ATM machine
  • Frozen tundra
  • Safe haven

Superfluous spoilers

The English language is full of popular expressions, but superfluous words fill up sentences. Learn to recognise redundant words and omit them from your text in favour of one concise word.

Here are some alternatives:

At this moment in time now
By virtue of the fact that because
In the absence of without
Made good their escape escaped
Leaves much to be desired poor
Was of the opinion that thought
Put in an appearance appeared
On account of the fact that because
In conjunction with with
A large proportion of many
In the event that if
With the exception of except

And when you’re tempted to use the words below, think if they’re necessary:

  • very
  • totally
  • completely
  • currently
  • actually
  • whether or not
  • really
  • believe
  • think
  • absolutely
  • literally
  • virtually
  • that
  • then
  • the thing is
  • obviously

Aim for excellence in your writing

Fluff adds nothing, so edit without mercy. As you read each word or sentence, consider whether it adds to the meaning. Cut out superfluous content and you will achieve greater results for your content marketing.

If you need a hand streamlining your copy, get in touch with Lesley at Editing Edge – we keep it simple without losing the meaning of your message.


I’m Lesley Hussell and my job is to bring some copywriting magic to your business, so you sell more, inspire your staff or spread your message far and wide. You’ll want to know how I measure up against other copywriters you’re considering, and whether I’m good enough to be trusted with your brand. If you’re looking for quick wit, creative thinking and a flair for compelling content writing.