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MHS Library | Academic writing

Avoiding clichés

Clichés are words and phrases that have lost specific meaning or interest over time, generally due to being overused. Whilst they tend to remain in use as part of everyday speech, they are not an effective means of communicating in academic writing. Be particularly careful to avoid clichés that may seem perfectly acceptable and yet have no inherent meaning in the context of your assignment. Examples of these include:

At this moment in time

Everyday life

At the end of the day

In the current climate

Throughout history

Few and far between

A level playing field

In this day and age

The fact of the matter

When all is said and done

In modern society

From the dawn of man

Pros and cons

In the final analysis

This day and age

Wordiness

Wordiness, or redundancy, often takes the form of circumlocutions (the use of many words to say something that could be said in fewer words without losing meaning), or filler words or filler phrases. Don’t be tempted to use redundant words to increase your word count: they won’t add to the quality of your writing! As an added danger, filler words/phrases can also be considered cliché.

Here are some examples of redundant words and phrases:

Avoid   Instead use

Still remains

remains

Absolutely complete

complete

At the present time

currently

The reason is because

because

Continue on

continue

Due to the fact that

because

During the course of

during

Here are some more examples avoiding of how to avoid unnecessary repetition and qualifiers:

Over-wordy phrase Better Because

The Blue Whale is a huge, enormous, giant of an animal.

The Blue Whale is an enormous animal

Two words that essentially mean the same as “enormous” have been removed

Blue Whales are filter feeders. Filter feeders, such as the Blue Whale, consume vast quantities of plankton.

Blue Whales are filter feeders. Filter feeders consume vast quantities of plankton.

Repeated information has been removed

Blue Whales are very big

Blue Whales are enormous.

It is better to avoid overuse of qualifiers such as "very" by using a single word that means the same.

Source: University of Hull