9 replies
One bad habit I have is that I tend to add "that" in sentences where it is not really needed.

See what I did there?

So what's the rule, then? When should you leave it in? According to Daily Writing Tips, here are several things that you should keep in mind. Gosh darn, I can't help it.

When To Keep

Here are some excerpts from the article:

--"How does one decide whether to keep or omit that? Clarity is the main consideration. Will the reader understand the sentence without it? Some readers may stumble over a missing that."

--"The following verbs should be followed by that:
make clear
point out

--"A writer’s preferred style is another determining factor....A writer may feel that a sentence flows more smoothly with that than without it"
  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    RULE: Get rid of that everywhere you can.

    Mike Schwenk shared a slick trick at one of my events:

    Mark the word "that" as misspelled in your word processor's dictionary.

    It'll show up with squiggles everywhere it appears.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Yeah, I remember Carlton talking about it on a podcast a few years ago, and I've been on the alert ever since. Now I see it all the time, for example on many FB comments.
    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
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  • Profile picture of the author nmwf
    One thing I've noticed is that the rules of copywriting differ from the rules of traditional writing. And even Internet writing rules differ from the both of those! So I always recommend writing for your audience. I.E. mimic their speech in your writing.

    Look at their emails, discussion board posts, blog comments, etc. (perhaps even the speech of your competitors) and adopt their style of writing.

    One sure-fire way to alienate a group of people is to talk to them in a "different language."
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    True. In my case, I am my audience.
    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
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  • For the historical archives.

    I believe it was Mr Ted Nicholas who first told us not to overuse "that"

    He mentioned it in various seminars and in his books.

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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    That is one of the first things I do during the editing process, get rid of
    that wherever possible. Just that one process makes the copy a lot
    tighter with more punch.

    -Ray Edwards
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Hello joe golfer

    Remove the "that" in every place and put only where strictly necessary, the speech will be more fluent.

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  • Profile picture of the author TypingPandas
    Hi there,

    What more can I say. The other members are all right. Get rid of "that" wherever you can. It actually makes the copy easier to read and understand and less "suffocated" with filler words. It's the same with "the". Use it only when necessary. I used to articulate everything: "the man", "the house", "the tomato" etc. Everything started with "the", until one of my first clients was so kind to tell me that I shouldn't be so generous with those "the".

    Typing Pandas
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  • Point taken, but as writers, our job is not to outlaw words.

    Prune back too hard and you're left looking at silence.

    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

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