Blog & Company News

Jun 13, 2011

Blogging Tip: Stop the Adjective Abuse!

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignright" width="425" caption="Adjectives"][/caption] Did you read about the six life-changing tweets that will turn your business around? What about the killer apps or ultimate techniques or secret weapons that will make your business more popular than Lady Gaga? One of the most brain-exploding, projectile-vomit-inducing gimmicks prevalent among some marketing bloggers is the atrociously insufferable overuse of adjectives. Marketing bloggers with dictionaries are like monkeys with heroin—out of control! It’s time to stop the adjective abuse and restore sanity to headline writing. Let’s take a cue from The New York Times. Look at this June 7 headline: “Stocks Move Higher, but Concerns Remain.” Notice what’s there—two verbs, “move” and “remain.” The verbs convey the action and the headline summarizes the main points of the article. The headline tells it like it is. It doesn’t overpromise. It doesn't tell you how you should feel. Notice what else isn’t there. You don’t see any of these words:
  • Colossal
  • Crucial
  • Exclusive
  • Outstanding
  • Powerful
  • Revolutionary
What do these words have in common? They’re adjectives. They assign value to the words they modify. They tell you how you should feel about those words. Adjectives are fine in moderation, but keep in mind that words have meanings. If you throw in adjectives just to fill space, you ding your credibility in the eyes of your readers. Before you use an adjective in a headline—or in the body of your blog—ask yourself these questions:
  • How do I know that this product or tip is outstanding, powerful, or exclusive?
  • Can I find a verb that conveys the same thought?
  • How can I show, not tell, that this product or tip is outstanding, powerful, or exclusive? This tip comes courtesy of my high-school English teacher. Don’t just say what quality something has. Show how something has that quality. Don’t say, “This is a phenomenal widget.” Instead, say, “This widget enabled villagers to maintain their farm equipment.”
Do you have any blogging advice you’d like to share? Please post it in the comments below.