Writing Tip: The Two Words We Always Use But Never Need

by DANNY RUBIN

Our collective vocabulary is full of words we don’t need. So far at News To Live By, we’ve done away with ‘amazing‘ and ‘literally,’ a pair of expressions that add little value to a sentence.

This time, we’re removing two words at once. The phrase in question is total filler and after it’s deleted, you won’t even know it’s gone. Here it is:

In order

The words ‘in order’ may turn up in our writing for three reasons:

- we think it makes our sentence sound more professional

- we use it out of habit

- we assume the words need to be there

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The news headlines below prove our sentences makes sense — and read more smoothly — when we remove ‘in order.’ You’ll find the culprit hiding out in bold.

Village VoiceThe Jets Get Rid of Darrelle Revis in Order to Continue Their 40-Year Rebuilding Process

Retail DigitalRetailers Must Adapt in Order to Serve the Digitally Connected Consumer

Bleacher Report3 Problems Los Angeles Kings Must Address in Order to Peak Before Playoffs

After we remove ‘in order,’ the headlines sound the same:

Village Voice: The Jets Get Rid of Darrelle Revis to Continue Their 40-Year Rebuilding Process

Retail Digital: Retailers Must Adapt to Serve the Digitally Connected Consumer

Bleacher Report: 3 Problems Los Angeles Kings Must Address to Peak Before Playoffs

Each headlines retains its meaning and also reads fasterI’ve written before about the importance of brevity; the fewer words we use, the stronger our writing. ‘In order’ might seem insignificant, but every second counts when we want people to read our entire message, especially online. Remember that Twitter’s new video tool, Vine, grants us only six seconds to make a point.

In a cover letter, work email or business presentation, every tick of the clock matters. That’s why ‘in order’ needs to go.

Ruth Walker at The Christian Science Monitor notes there are some instances when ‘in order’ is necessary.

For example: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

If you’re drafting the constitution for a new nation…OK, you can use ‘in order.‘ For all other scenarios, you don’t need those two words in order to boost your writing.

The sentence is always stronger if you leave it out.

Got a writing tip? Know of more words that need to go?

Share below!

 © 2013, Danny Rubin

Feature photo: Shawna Lemay (Flickr)

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