Do Not Use These Words

We recently completed work on Block Club’s new copy style guide, which spells out writing rules and guidelines. In doing research on copy style guides, I came across some great writing tools that other brands employ. One that I love is the “Do Not Use These Words” list. While I usually find proactive, directional language more helpful than prohibitive don’ts, this kind of list can really come in handy. It helps avoid cliché, which while often true, are unoriginal.

This list from the MailChimp Content Style Guide is particularly great. Notice how self-aware MailChimp is about the language it used in the past, and the decision to retire what no longer worked. It’s a compassionate, forward-facing list. It’s also short, which means that the writer still has a lot of freedom to use their own style.

Every now and again, I make mental note of a word or phrase I think we should retire at Block Club. I’m going to use MailChimp’s list as a starting point to amend our new copy style guide. In the meantime, enjoy MailChimp’s list of retired words…for the last time!

MailChimp’s Words to Avoid

  • automagical (we used to say this a lot, and we’re embarrassed about it)
  • funnel, incentivize, leverage, disruption, thought leader, or other fluffy corporate terms
  • internets, interwebs, or any other variation of the word “internet”
  • ninja, rockstar, wizard, unicorn (unless referring to a literal ninja, rockstar, wizard, or unicorn)
  • young, old, elderly, or any other word describing a person’s age
  • crushing it, killing it
  • crazy, insane, or similar words to describe people