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Whet your writing, website and life

Sterling tips bring the shine. From words to stop using … to a newly noticed better web content organization idea … to the wisdom of an 89-year-old.

Cut “cringeworthy words” and sharpen your writing.

Dump these words and phrases, and whatever you’re writing will improve – and whomever you’re writing to will be glad. Deemed cringeworthy, yet ubiquitous, the fearsome 5 are taken down by Hoa Loranger of the Nielsen Norman Group. Her rationale is spot-on for these offenders:

  • Utilize … because “use” is easier to process, and a fancier term doesn’t make you sound any smarter than you already are.
  • Enables … as in “allows you to,” can sound paternal. Instead, keep it simple with a “you get” or “you can” construction.
  • Very … when used as an intensifier (really, extremely, quite) only adds to sentence length and undermines your credibility.
  • We understand that … we sound inauthentic when we start our sentences this way.
  • End user … is roughly the equivalent of addressing your direct mail to “occupant.”

Polish your headlines and subheads to announce what your content explains.

Done right, your headlines and subheads should deliver the gist of your content all on their own. A relatively new insight for content, blogging and all-around writing, it’s good for 2 reasons. First, because it’s just plain good writing – meaning you’ll organize well and deliver according to plan. Even more importantly, consider your site visitors who require electronic reading assistance and get a text-to-speech or Braille version of those headlines and subheads. When those lines adequately and accurately set up the ensuing paragraphs, your sight-challenged site visitors will know exactly what’s coming and whether they ought to tap to get the details.

“Believe that what you’re doing is the best you can do.”

He’s 89 and has taken to building guitars. The short film about Manny Avalos is as interesting for the images of his craft as it is touching for his expressed wisdom. “I wish I had 3 lives to live, to do all the things I want to do.” So do I, Manny. So do I.

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