Declutter Your Prose: Three Phrases to Avoid in Your Posts

Unnecessary phrases, be gone! Here are three quick ways to copy edit your writing and declutter your prose.

On The Daily Post, we want to help you improve your writing and offer concrete advice to craft clear, crisp prose. As an editor on, I read many, many posts each day on our platform; it’s worth pointing out words and sentences that might detract from your writing.

Here are three ways to copy edit your writing and declutter your prose:

1. In this post, I will explain . . .

When we draft posts, we naturally dump our inner monologues onto the page. And that’s good — that’s the beauty of free writing and cranking out first drafts: we have material we can later rework, cut, and move around.

Before you hit “Publish,” scan your intro for phrases like “In this post, I will explain…” or “Today, I will write about…” and similar phrases. In your drafting process, just let go and type. But when you’re revising and editing, excise these phrases that initially helped your train of thought, but are no longer needed:

In this post, I want to add my thoughts to the ongoing discussion about why Jill Abramson was fired from the New York Times. I read an interesting piece in the New Yorker by Ken Auletta about why . . .

2. Sorry for my absence, but . . .

You don’t need to apologize to your readers for not blogging for a while. We all have jobs and families and priorities — if you disappear for several months, that’s normal! But when you decide to get back into it, just dive in. There’s no need to explain yourself (unless, of course, you want to tell that story).

Write your next post as if no time has passed, and avoid wasting your introduction on secondary details on where you’ve been. You might lose readers in that first paragraph, which is where you’re supposed to reel them in! Some visitors, then, may not reach the real meat of your post.

In short: get to the point.

3. This post is in response to . . .

The community on The Daily Post is pretty awesome — we’re glad to see hundreds of responses to prompts each day and so many writing and photo challenge submissions each week. It’s easy to fall into a habit when you publish a similarly formatted post each week and reuse phrases like “This post is in response to this week’s photo challenge, On the Move,” or “Here is my answer to Blog Your Block, this week’s writing challenge on The Daily Post.”

Think of varied, creative ways to introduce your challenge submissions, or weave links to the original challenge posts naturally in your text. Instead of . . .

Here is a shot of my work of art. This post is my answer to this week’s photo challenge.

. . . try this alternative, in which your prose is the star of the post:

We all stumble upon examples of art, each day. We might be walking to work, on our morning run, or rushing through a subway station. The works of art that are unexpected and mundane are often the most beautiful, as you can see . . .

In the example above, your own voice and ideas are the focus, rather than the bulky mention and link to the original challenge.

We hope these three quick tips help to declutter your writing!

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  1. Regarding #3, I’m fond of including explanations/disclaimers in an “author’s note” that I keep separate from the main post. I’ll either toss them at the top (like I did with this Daily Post response:, or put it at the bottom (like I did for my recent A to Z challenge posts:

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  2. #2 Guilty as charged. Because the way I write is almost identical to the way I speak, I think I have the occasional tendency to forget what is and isn’t important to say via typed word as opposed to spoken. Now that I think about it, I wonder if I’m also apologising to myself for not sticking to my publishing routine… Didn’t anticipate getting so philosophical in a comment; I’ve surprised myself, ha 🙂

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  3. Oh yes, please no more “Sorry I haven’t been here in eight months, but…” If you have legitimately been AWOL for eight months, by all means, please do explain where you’ve been, if you wish, but if it’s been two days? I sort of regrettably stopped reading a non-WordPress blog I had been following for some months because every. single. post started with an apology of some sort. It was bonkers-making and detracted from the otherwise great content.

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  4. I always thought it was common decency to apologies for an absence, If people are following you and you just disappear for a prolonged period then return like no time has passed it seems a bit, I don’t know, rude?

    Call me old fashioned like that…

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    1. A good point. I think it depends on the person and their relationship he/she has built with their readership. Some bloggers are quite personable and very open about their lives and whereabouts day-to-day — in fact, that might be the focus of their blog. Or simply their style. Others might have different personas and approaches to their sites; I don’t think it’s necessarily rude to publish a post suddenly, after several months or longer — as online publishers with public sites, do we *owe* it to our audience to explain something like this?

      Thanks for the food for thought.

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      1. I kinda thought the whole point of a blog was to gain the readers interest and attention, so no apology would strike me as counter productive but as you say everyone has a different style.

        One is not necessarily better than the other, different strokes and all that!

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  5. I like it if the reason the person on sabbatical explains their absence if it’s either interesting or helpful. Sometimes a great vacation or an illness that someone else may learn something from is very helpful. I recently found a post from a blogger here that suffered from the same rare illness I had temporarily and it really helped to know that she got through it and what I could expect when I saw my Dr. I love an honest post even though I’m very bad a sharing things like this myself.

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  6. I avoid the phrase “I think”. Of course what I write is what I think. Very sparingly, I use it to mean “I’m not sure, but”.

    It is more difficult to judge how much to explain, how much to let people assume.

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