Is it time to cleanup your writing style?

C = Cleanup

Southerners have a propensity for talk. Ask them how they’re doing and you’ll get a vivid description of their last gallbladder attack. They then segue into Aunt Martha’s bad hip because even God can’t keep that woman off of a ladder. Before you can say, “Okay.” You will know more than you ever wanted about this lovely person, their family, their dog and be invited to stay for dinner. When all along you were expecting a simple, “Fine, thank you.”

Yeah, I like to talk. This can show up in my writing and blog. Which brings me back to the letter C and the A-Z Challange and what I’ve learned over the past year from an amazing Web of Writing Bloggers.

“Cleanup this mess.”


As a child, this was one of my mom’s constant phrases. You’d think I’d atomically apply the concept to everything in my life especially my writing.

But, I didn’t. Not until I began to listen and learn from a Web of amazing Writers. Did I mention I hate housework?

Here are the things you guys taught me about cleaning up my blog and my writing style.

  1. Use headings.
  2. Keep paragraphs and sentences short and concise.
  3. Use clean, crisp phrases. No extraneous adverbs or unnecessary descriptions. In other words, don’t waste the reader’s time.
  4. Avoid dark, bright or garish colors. It distracts from your message and exhausts the reader.
  5. Keep widgets, pictures to a minimum. Readers glance first read second.
  6. Optimize website and book for mobile devices. Funky text, or images that blur when converted to eBooks or mobile devices will have a negative impact.
  7. Remove unnecessary ads. If you use ads on your web, make sure they are related to your brand.
  8. Don’t clutter up your sidebar with award badges. These are cool and a fun way to connect with other writers but put them on a separate page.
  9. White space is your friend. Don’t crowd too much together on your website or in your book.
  10. Watch out for Dead Links, these are frustrating to your readers.
  11. Above the fold. When writing a story or post remember this newspaper term. If the first paragraph doesn’t grab, no one keeps reading.
  12. Produce a friendly, easy to use (or read), and professional product.
  13. Formating is important. Text should be formatted for easy scanning. This is true in eBooks as well as on blogs.

What do you think?

Could your website, eBook or story use a little sprucing up?

Talk to me, comments are now open.

You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

If you would like more tips on cleaning up chick out the links below.

Write Clearly and Concisely – IEEE Professional Communication Society

Writing Clear, Concise Sentences by Writer’s Handbook

Blog Design: Keep It Clutter-Free and User-Friendly by 

Spring clean your blog. By

11 Things to Remove from Your Website (Declutter Your Blog) By Gina Alyse



26 thoughts on “Is it time to cleanup your writing style?

  1. Great post! I am a graphic designer and I say yay! White space…no extra flashing pictures…and always use what you use with s specific purpose. Keeping it brief is always a plus in my personal eyes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. True, every other month I get this urge to clean up and end up not doing much.Very useful tips. How about using pictures from google images – I regularly use on my short stories, unless there is a copyright. A picture is just to enhance or give a teaser to the story thats about t follow, would love to hear from you more about this. If you get time, please do drop by my blog and your thoughts on my stories would be greatly appreciated !

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…
    A to Z Challenge 2016

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll definitely pop over, thanks for the invite. I’m cautious about Google Images, I do use them on occasion. Prefer sites I know to be free of copy write, such as Some bloggers have actually been sued in the past over online images.


  3. The concept of the fold is increadibly important. Slate magazine recently published a study that more than 80% of readers (or very close to that) never read below the fold—think the bottom of your monitor before scrolling. I try to write for that length now. And I moved all my widgets off screen so that readers have to toggle to see them. White space is premium.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we all scan the first few lines to decide if the article, book or post is worth our time. Sometimes we miss out but most of the time we know our on minds. Thanks for commenting.


  4. Well bless her heart, you know I’m from the south and I go on and on and on .. and how’s your mama and them? Can I get you some sweet tea? Now what was your question? I’m quite a chatty person as well. I’ve learned, I mean I’m learning to cut down on the words. I’m also in the middle of a complete blog makeover. Actually it’s competed and ready to go, but since it wasn’t ready until two days into the challenge, I wasn’t sure if I should put it up now. I didn’t know if it would be confusing to have a new and improved blog up, but one that looks very different to repeat visitors. I’m going to have to decide soon. I love all of your tips and they are all right on point . Thanks for sharing the excellent advice. I know that I need to go back and spend some considerable time checking for broken links in all of my old blog posts. I have not done that in a very long time.

    Melissa Sugar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d suggest you start preparing your readers about the change. Give a coming attraction type of blurb on your blog and set a date. Also add a link should anyone go to the old one, it’s easy as pie to jump to the new. One other tip- back up your old blog so you don’t lose anything.
      Well, bless my soul. I got a bit wordy with my reply. Sorry, can’t keep a good Southern woman quiet.


  5. YES! I am such a chatty person! I’m the worst with blogs and emails – I start out with a pithy one liner and the next thing you know I’ve got the first 3 chapters of a book written. 😛

    In regards to the site design, I wholeheartedly agree with the ads comment. Not only are they distracting, but I find them a bit rude. I would much rather straight up PAY a quality content provider for quality content that try to be tricked into making them a few cents by being exposed to an ad. Not to mention they slow everything down. And the ones that play noise just kill me. KILL ME.

    Great post! I’m excited to keep reading!

    Designed by Monique

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, those must be some one liners. I gotta get me one. 3 chapters! Now that’s writing. Yes! I hate the ads that pop up and start playing. I rarely go back to those websites.


  6. Unfortunately I suffer from verbal diarrhea both spoken and written. I have a bad habit of writing as I speak and this is a major source of incomplete thoughts and run-on sentences. Thank you for mixing your truth with wit … especially in the first paragraph. I admire your wisdom-sharing style, Jean. And, I hate housework too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good tips. I especially agree with the advice about ads. The other thing I absolutely hate is the sign-up box that plops down in front of you on the second paragraph and prevents you from going further. How would I know if I wanted to sign up for the blog if I can’t even read the first post without interruption?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I absolutely agree with the point above – the bits that move on a website, particularly if they obscure the text, I find very irritating. I’m a real fan of more rather than less white space. It makes everything easier to read, and I believe is better for people with a visual impairment too.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think it is interesting how so many bloggers recommend the pictures and memes, but I find the ones that move are very distracting when I am trying to read the words. I like your advice, but I will probably still insert my own pictures when I feel it fits with what I am trying to say.
    Getting that first paragraph to grab the reader’s interest is one of the most difficult things to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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