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Super fast tips to help you write faster, better

TIP: Increase your writing speed with the find & replace key

There are some bad writing habits we all slip into from time to time. One is wordiness. If you tend to be wordy, here’s a fast way to fix the problem:

Use your “find & replace” key [hit Control + F in MS Word], then type in “tion” in the “find” box and search through your document. Each time you find a word that ends in “tion” (for example: observation, translation, allocation), try to eliminate it. Why?

There are three big problems with “tion” words.

  1. They are usually long – three to four syllables. Readers tend to stumble on long words.
  2. They usually don’t create a picture in the reader’s mind. (If I write “dog” you are likely to see a dog in your mind’s eye. If I write “allocation” you will see nothing). Good writing is all about pictures.
  3. You usually form these words by taking a perfectly good verb (eg: observe) and adding “tion” to turn it into a noun (“observation.”) To make a sentence, you THEN have to add ANOTHER verb – usually a boring one like “is” or “made” (eg: “He made an observation.”) This makes your writing dull and wordy.

The best way to eliminate the “tion” word is to turn the noun back into its original verb: She observed the problem; he translated the document.

This week as you’re writing: watch for words ending in “tion” and try to eliminate them.