Do you cringe when reading articles you wrote early in your web writing career? When I read mine, I am shocked that I got paid for them.
My early articles rambled, were wordy and full of cliches, and didn’t consider the reading level of my audience. They were full of fluff.
Fluff writing drowns your message and turns readers off. But how do you identify which words are unnecessary?
This article discusses how to cut fluff, the first step of the CRAFT framework for perfecting AI-generated articles. It shares 7 tips for removing fluff and shows how that can improve readability and concision.
Let’s get started.
Note: This article covers the first step in the AIO process for perfecting AI-generated content that we developed here at Content At Scale. It is the first of five articles on my unique C-R-A-F-T framework that defines the AIO process. This one touches C, aka cut the fluff.
Want to learn every step involved in our C.R.A.F.T. framework? You’re in the right place. To learn more about AIO and C.R.A.F.T, read our individual guides:
- C – a full guide on cutting the fluff
- R – a full guide on optimizing your content for SEO
- A – a full guide on adding blog images and visuals
- F – a full guide on how to fact-check
- T – a full guide on how to trust-build in your content
Additionally, subscribe to our blog, watch our C.R.A.F.T. and AIO tutorials on our YouTube channel, and read this blog to understand the AIO model.
What is Fluff in Written Content?
Fluff are words, phrases, or sentences that don’t add value to the overall message of the piece. It’s often used as filler material or simply as a way of making an article appear longer than necessary.
What does fluff look like?
Fluff usually takes on one of two forms:
1. Redundant language
Redundant language includes phrases like “in order to” and “due to the fact that”. These words don’t add anything new or interesting. They just take up space.
2. Irrelevant information
This is information that doesn’t contribute directly toward the main point of an article. Examples are anecdotes, tangents, and personal opinions not related to the topic at hand.
Another type of fluff is overusing adjectives and adverbs. Here’s an example:
Fluffy: “He ran extremely quickly across the field”
Concise: “He sprinted across the field”
Fluffy: “The dog barked loudly”
Concise: “The dog barked”
Fluffy: “She was as graceful as a swan gliding through water”
Concise: “She moved gracefully”
The bolded words can be removed without any effect on the clarity or meaning of the sentence.
Expletives, adverbs, adjectives, and other cutesy language have their place in writing, but they must be used in moderation when writing web content.
Why is it Important to Remove Fluff from Your Articles?
Removing fluff makes your writing more concise and easier for readers to digest. It helps ensure accuracy since facts are not lost among irrelevant details.
Besides obscuring facts, fluff makes it difficult for readers to maintain interest and engage with the content.
Key Takeaway: Removing fluff from your writing helps make it more concise and easier to read. To avoid fluff, ask yourself if each sentence adds value, read aloud for clarity and accuracy, and cite only relevant sources.
7 Tips for Cutting Fluff in Long-Form Blog Articles
The best way to avoid writing fluff is by being aware of what content adds value and what doesn’t. Before adding any sentence to your work, ask yourself whether it adds something meaningful or it only pads the piece.
Here are some more tips for cutting fluff in long-form blog articles:
1. Start with an outline
It is harder to go off-topic if you write with the guide of an outline. An outline will help organize your thoughts and keep you focused on your article’s main points.
The Content At Scale AI writer takes the pain out of writing blog post outlines. All you need is the keyword you want your article to rank for and a few lines of text to give the AI additional context.
After opening your project in the CAS app, you will see this screen:
Enter your keyword and additional context. The additional context now gives you 500 characters to work with, enough to tell the AI the main points you want the article to cover.
The main points will typically form the outline, which you may only need to tweak by moving a few items around.
After you have entered your text for additional context, hit the customize button. The AI will generate your article’s outline, to which you can add more subheads if you feel important points were missed.
With those additional points, you also have the option of giving the AI additional context so it knows exactly what the sub-section should discuss.
When you are satisfied with the outline, hit the create content now button. You will be told to check back in a few minutes, after which your article will be ready for you to polish and optimize, the first step of which is what this article covers.
2. Get to the point, FAST
You don’t need five long paragraphs to introduce your topic. Long introductions risk boring readers before they get to the information they are after. So get to the meat of the matter, FAST, using short sentences and paragraphs.
Your introduction needs to quickly tell readers what questions you will be answering in the piece. Of course, you may want to do this in a way that encourages readers to read on, but don’t take too long with it.
3. Cut out unnecessary words:
Take a look at each sentence and ask yourself if all the words are necessary for conveying the intended meaning. If not, cut them out.
This will help streamline your writing and make the information more accessible. Those unnecessary, redundant details and irrelevant information distract readers from understanding what you’re trying to say.
Look for areas where you have used intensifiers, adverbs, and adjectives. These words are often unnecessary. Words like really, somewhat, fairly, rather, quite, and very rarely improve a sentence.
4. Replace jargon with simple, everyday words
When you sit down to write an article, your goal should not be to sound knowledgeable and sophisticated. It should be to convey your message as simply as possible so that it is easily understood.
The best way to do this is to avoid jargon and use simple, direct language. Unless you are addressing a professional audience, like doctors, engineers, architects, or lawyers, avoid jargon.
5. Chop big words and long phrases
Jargon has the same effect on your content as big words. Don’t use a big word if there is a small, simpler one. Here are 20 commonly used big words that could be replaced with smaller/simpler ones:
- Utilize -> use
- Ameliorate -> improve/help
- Alleviate -> ease/reduce
- Approximately -> about
- Attempt -> try
- Commence -> start
- Detrimental -> damaging/harmful
- Disseminate -> spread
- Emphasize -> stress
- Expeditiously -> quickly
- Objective -> aim/goal
- Proportion -> part
- Reimburse -> repay/pay back
- Residence -> home
- Substantial -> large/great
- Sufficient -> enough
- Ultimately -> finally
- Visualize -> see
- Unoccupied -> empty
- Notwithstanding -> despite/still/yet
While big words don’t add to the word count, they make the information harder to understand. What pads the article are long phrases that can be replaced with one word or two.
The image below shows 50 of them.
Here are a few other examples:
- To the extent that -> if/when
- That being the case -> if so
- A large number of -> many/most (or just state the number)
- On numerous occasions -> often
- On the grounds that -> because
- Of the opinion -> think
- With the minimum of delay -> quickly
- With reference to -> about
- The question as to -> whether
- On behalf of -> for
If a reader does not understand the meaning of a word, it’s meaningless to them. This means if your piece is laden with jargon and big words, the whole article is unintelligible to your audience.
6. Check your grammar and punctuation:
Bad grammar and misspellings reflect badly on you and take attention away from the information you are sharing, while poor punctuation makes your article harder to read and understand.
Good punctuation makes your writing clearer and more precise. It saves words as you won’t need to expand a point with an extra sentence or two to get it across.
7. Read aloud when proofreading
Reading aloud helps to catch typos and other small errors you may have missed. It focuses your attention on the work you are proofing, which helps to identify areas where sentences might be wordy or difficult for readers to understand.
Key Takeaway: Cutting back on fluff in AI content is essential for readability and comprehension.
After trimming all that fluff, your article should now be ready for the next step in the CRAFT framework – reviewing grammar and on-page SEO.
Before you leave the editor, remember to save the changes you have made. See the image above for how it’s done.
Improve Reader Experience with Concise, More Readable AIO Content
AI content suffers from the same issues of wordiness and fluff that you get with human-written content. That’s why the AIO model we developed at Content At Scale treats that first draft the AI writer generates as a baseline. While it’s good content, especially if written by the Content At Scale AI, it can be improved.
Lean, fluff-free content is easier to read and understand – both of which are aims of the AIO process. Where possible, use fewer words to get your point across. Avoid repetition, cutesy language, and other tricks that only serve to pad your articles.
Join 1,000’s of other writers and publishers who are using the ContentAt Scale long-form AI writer to produce nearly ready-to-publish articles, saving you thousands of dollars and up to 10X production time. Streamline your content production and save money and time with Content At Scale today.
Build Your Own Automated Content Engine
Did you know it’s possible to simply add up to 100 keywords and within a few minutes get back 100 blog posts ready to go just like this?
For as low as $0.01/word you can have your own content marketing engine without needing to handhold an AI writer through the creation process. Check out how simply you can scale your content marketing.