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Edition 16

10 words to ban from your emails

It's official - I'm an old fart! It happened at approximately 3.43pm last Thursday when my 3.5 year old daughter Ashlyn announced that her piece of toast with jam was "stupid".

(Why? Who on earth knows. Jam was out that day and Vegemite was in.)

Not the worst word she could have selected I'll admit but coming out of her adorable little mouth it just didn't sound...well....right!

So now I've banned it from the Hitchens' House vocab. Hence my old fart status.

This got me thinking about what other sorts of words had managed to fly under my language radar and become part of everyday life in our house and what other words I might like to ban - other than the obvious undesirables.

You see, I live with Ashlyn, my almost two-year-old son Lucas and a 36-on-Saturday year old husband Jayson who has an unnaturally large love of toilet humour.

As you can imagine nothing's funnier than a loud windy pops followed by shouting (in unison of course!) POO WEE STINKY WINKY!!!!

Okay so poo and fart are in and stupid is out.

Wee, snot and boogie are in but shut-up is definitely OUT!

Crud is in but crap is out.

You might like to know I've got another list of banned words. But instead of being banned from my children's vocab, I'm hereby banning them from your email vocab.

Email demands short, punchy sentences composed of simple easy-to-digest words.

That's because E-newsletters - unlike printed documents - are usually scanned, not read.

Now you know why I like to bold the points in my E-newsletter that I don't want you to miss.

Plus extensive testing using heat maps and eye-scanning technology has shown that when it comes to reading emails, reader concentration is focused on the left hand side of the page.

Words to the far right barely register - hence the short, punchy sentences.

When writing for email, cut to the chase. You don't have the luxury of three or four pars to introduce a topic.

By then your reader has lost interest, hit delete and moved onto the next item in their Inbox, probably before you were even able to make your point.

Notice how the opening of my E-newsletter ("It's official - I'm an old fart!") kind of drops you right into the guts of the story with a quick and quirky statement designed to intrigue?

Power up your E-newsletter by chopping any long, fancy pants words out and swapping them for something more like what you'd find in a Mr Men book.

Dump the corporate speak and talk like a human.

Here's an example taken from the writing process I went through to create this E-newsletter.

This is how the sentence started:

You can immediately improve the effectiveness of your E-newsletter by looking for any big, long syllable words that can be switched for something more like what you'd find in a Mr Men book.

This is how I re-wrote it:

Power up your E-newsletter by chopping any long, fancy pants words out and swapping them for something more like what you'd find in a Mr Men book.

That's says the same thing with SIX less words and just sounds more interesting, don't you think?

Now for my Top 10 worst words (or phrases) for email and the shorter, high impact word you should swap it for.

  • However = But (and yep, in email and in print journalism you can even start a sentence with But.)
  • Currently = Now
  • Approximately = About
  • Utilise = Use
  • Myself = Me
  • Requirements = Needs
  • Implement = Do
  • Is able to = Can
  • In the near future = Soon
  • Numerous = Many
  • Reduced = Cut

Okay smarty pants, that's 11! I could have gone on all day so for me, even cutting down to just 11 was a big ask.

Want more writing help?

If you missed downloading it when you first signed up for Mouse Mail, take the opportunity now to download your free copy of my Whitepaper: 5 steps for writing a gripping E-newsletter for the non-writer. Just follow this Link.

Brown Mouse Communications helps small business owners build trust and win sales through high quality, individualised email newsletters.

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and if reproducing electronically, including a link to www.brownmouse.com.au

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