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Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

The Word “All” is Unnecessary and You Can Delete It

how to edit documents Alicia Keys isn’t pleased about (all) the photos and video fans capture at (all) her shows. In this week’s column, I explain why we can delete the “alls” in the previous sentence.

Did you know several musicians and comedians, including Alicia Keys and Dave Chappelle, now ask all their fans to put cell phones in locked pouches so the devices won’t distract from the performance?

It’s true. A company called Yondr provides all the pouches for live events. Geoff Edgers, a reporter with The Washington Post, did a feature on Yondr and asked several artists what they think.

Said Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers: “[Yondr is] a little bit clunky but it’s better than telling [fans] to leave their phones in their cars or forbidding it.”

It’s a novel concept, all these mini phone lockers. Perhaps one day it will be the norm at every live show.

If you noticed, I put in bold the word “all” three times. That’s because, in each instance, I can delete “all,” and the sentence retains its meaning.

  1. “…comedians, including Alicia Keys and Dave Chapelle, now ask all their fans to put cell phones in locked pouches…”
    • Rewritten as “…comedians, including Alicia Keys and Dave Chapelle, now ask their fans to put cell phones in locked pouches…”
      • If they ask “their fans,” then it’s implied they asked all of them
  2. “…Yondr provides all the pouches for live events.”
    • Rewritten as, …”Yondr provides the pouches for live events.”
      • Again, if Yondr provides the pouches, then of course they provide all of them
  3. “It’s a novel concept, all these mini phone lockers.”
    • Rewritten as “It’s a novel concept, these mini phone lockers.”
      • Once more, we don’t need “all” because it’s redundant.

If you’ve come around my blog before, you know I’m big on brevity. I always look for ways to cut the word count and sharpen our message. I also made editing skills a central theme in my book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email?, a collection of 100+ templates for networking, the job search and LinkedIn.

A few examples of my blog posts about editing:

Lately, I find myself deleting “all” when it’s used to modify a noun (ex: “all these mini phone lockers”). We can even remove “all” when the word describes a group of something (“All of us” could become “Everyone”).

Here’s the test. When you review a document, search for the word “all.” Each time it appears, ask yourself, “If I remove ‘all,’ does the sentence keep its meaning?” In most cases, the answer is “yes.”

Sure, it seems minor to pore over a document to remove one measly word. But every little edit adds up to improve documents like a job application, work email or report.

All the words we use matter. Make each one count.


What other words can we delete?

Share below!


Featured photo: Walmart (Flickr)


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