It’s apparent that it’s obviously clear, of course!

It irks me somewhat when I come across a writer whose vocabulary is frequented by words such as ‘obviously’, ‘clearly’, and the phrase ‘of course’. If it’s so flippin’ obvious, why say it?

If I am reading an informative article or blog post then it’s quite good to be treated with a modicum of respect. Including the word ‘obviously’ or one of its delinquent cohorts tends to be for one of three reasons.

Such words are frequently included simply because the writer fears terribly that his or her writing is so sloppy that any reader will struggle to leap from point to point like a mountain goat, and instead needs to be carried along on a stretcher of unnecessary and fairly meaningless adjectives and adverbs.

These words are also often included because the writer hasn’t yet thought of what to say in the paragraph which he or she has already begun to write. It’s a sort of ‘writer’s block’ method which, whilst fine in itself if it works for you that way, should be removed a little the scaffolding which it effectively is.

You can usually scratch out any clause which begins with the words ‘obviously’, ‘clearly’, and ‘of course’, immediately improving the overall quality and tone of the article.

The third reason such words may be included is because the writer is being paid by the word, and pointing out the obvious in an unnecessary way, and underlining the fact that it’s obvious, is a great way of adding an extra few pence to the bill.

Words and phrases such as ‘actually’ and ‘in fact’ are also often sprinkled throughout such writing, and invariably for little other reason than to beef up the writer’s income, as far as I can tell. Certainly they add nothing to the content itself.

I suspect that in a few cases these horrible words are included out of sheer habit, and so I would urge anyone writing blog posts, web content, articles or other online literature to include during the proofreading and editing stage a thorough check of these odious little linguistic oiks.

I’m not going to claim perfection myself. I freely admit that I have discovered a tendency to punctuate my writing with the word ‘actually’ about as often as my first car punctuated the peace and quiet of my neighbourhood with alarming bangs. As a result I make sure that prior to releasing my writing into the wild and watching it scamper off happily into the digital wilderness, I cut, prune and snip every last example of that word, and any of its cohorts.

Try removing ‘actually’, ‘of course’, ‘obviously’, ‘in fact’ and ‘clearly’ from your writing. You’ll generally find that your writing becomes tighter, and your audience made to feel less like slow dullards in need of a linguistic helping hand to stagger from one highbrow point to the next.

Thieved with permission from the excellent wordsmith, Justin Arnold from the Mightier Pen


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