Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Retire cliches, rejuvenate your writing

By · Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I have noticed variations of “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” — the famous line from “Wizard of Oz” — in everything from music reviews to stories about the zoo. The latest comes in ad copy, on a page in a high-end furniture catalog: “Florals and Stripes and Plaids, Oh My? Oh, Yes!”

This example reminds me of the overuse of cliches. I have been told that eliminating cliches from copy takes out the fun. But what fun is it to use someone else’s words, over and over again, instead of your own?

In our book, we came up with 35 Common Cliches. Here are some of them:

There are plenty more worn out words, and readers tire of them.

When you consider the Web, there are practical reasons not to use cliches, especially in headlines. You want readers to find your work in online searches. They can do that when you use keywords in your headlines and body copy that are specific to your work, but they can’t do it when you use cliches.

Every product out there is competing for attention. Keep your writing fresh so your product will be a viable competitor.

Emilie Davis
FOR MORE:
Strategy 35: Cliches (Think Like an Editor: 50 Strategies for the Print and Digital World)

 

 

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