It happens to the best of us. Words that we use regularly like to hang out in our subconscious. And some linger for longer than others, eventually making their way into our writing through our natural flow of words.
The thing is, if we use certain words or phrases over and over, they start to lose individual impact. And that, sprinkled too much over the whole, weakens the entire body of writing.
This is especially true if you have a set of words you’re required to include in the document (like keywords for search engine purposes). You know you have to use these words, but when a reader sees them too many times, they see through it and you lose their trust. No one likes being sold to.
To avoid too much word repetition, consider the following tips, and you’ll be sure to dodge the habit of sounding like a broken record.
If you’re repeating a sentence for the sake of solidifying a point, or to bring the reader back to the original idea, take a sentence you’ve already written and re-structure it completely. Present your points in a different order. Try to replace as many of the words as you can with new ones that say the same thing. Not only will this solve the repetition problem, it will add a more dynamic rhythm to the structure of your writing — which makes reading much more interesting.
Use a thesaurus.
This tactic is known to be taken a little too far at times. And it becomes obvious in the writing — so use it sparingly. Look up one of your commonly used words and find it a fitting new replacement. Just try not to choose something too obscure, because that will very noticeably show who you consulted for your word choice.
Read your writing out loud.
This is a great habit to develop for more than just avoiding repetition. When you read what you wrote out loud, you hear how it sounds. It’s easy to lose track of this while you’re in the heat of the moment typing away before your brilliance disappears. So when you do revisit your words, say them out loud and hear how well they blend together. You’d be surprised at what you’ll hear.
Break it up.
Run-on sentences are by far the most commonly corrected errors editors encounter. Break up your sentences. Turn one long thought into two or three shorter ones. This way, you’ll inadvertently deal with repetition. And you’ll see what deserves to stay and what can afford to go. Plus you’ll add cadence to your writing that will make it easier to absorb. A nice combination of short and long sentences is more impactful than just one or the other.
Editors and proofreaders, in addition to their multitude of talents, are trained to watch for repetition as well as grammatical errors. If you’re still struggling with this even after applying these tips, professional editing services can help you out.