How to avoid repetition in writing

One of the biggest telltale signs of weak writing is using the same words again and again. When reading a piece, especially out loud, it really sticks out like a sore thumb if the same words and phrases appear repeatedly, but how can you keep this to an absolute minimum?

Use synonyms

Today happens to be Thesaurus Day, and while we’re not suggesting you need to do a full-blown Joey Tribbiani job on your work, if you find that you are using the same word frequently, why not look to see there are any similar words that mean something similar?

Sites like Thesaurus.com can help you, or if you’re using Microsoft Word, simply right-click on a word and go to ‘Synonyms’ for a list of others you might be able to use.

Remember not to overdo it though. If you don’t recognise the words suggested, it’s likely your readers won’t either. A huge giveaway of an inexperienced writer is when they run an article through a rewriter tool and use technical terms like ‘enunciated’ or ‘articulated’ instead of a simple word like ‘said’. If you run a WordPress site or have any experience of dealing with spam comments, you will probably know what I’m talking about here.

Don’t keep repeating a name

Sports reporters are very good at this. If writing up a report on a football match or news story related to a club, using the club’s name time and time again will start to look tedious.

For example, let’s imagine you’re writing about Chelsea F.C. You don’t have to keep using the word ‘Chelsea’. You could refer to them as:

– The Blues (the club nickname – almost all clubs have one of these)
– The London club
– The Stamford Bridge outfit (the name of their ground)
– Antonio Conte’s men (their manager)
– The Premier League Champions (at least for now, as they won the league last season)

Similarly, if you’re writing about a person, like tennis player Andy Murray, you could refer to him as:

– The 30-year-old tennis star
– The Glaswegian
– The twice Wimbledon champion

These techniques are useful for keeping your writing fresh and snappy.

Rethink sentence structure

Limited writers often pad out their work with lots of short, abrupt sentences and struggle to link them together. They might come out with something like:

“The FA Cup Final takes place at the end of every season. It is held at Wembley Stadium. It is one of the most watched sporting events in the world.”

Starting sentences with “it is” makes them very dry to read. You can say the same thing much more impressively with some small tweaks, such as:

“The FA Cup Final takes place at the end of every season. Held at Wembley Stadium, the occasion is one of the world’s most watched sporting events.”

These are just a few suggestions for how to keep your writing neat and interesting, but many more can be found through our Freelance Writing for Businesses diploma course.

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