Curing the lazy writer’s locutions: “and more” and “is expected to”

Image: Discogs

Some phrases drive me crazy. As an editor, I will always flag them and replace them. Among the worst: “and more” and “is expected to.”

Writing comes from flow. You have something to say, and you want to spill it out on the page and get on to the next thing. This is how lazy phrases get into your language — your concentration wanes for a moment and you substitute bullshit for actual content.

The only meaning of “and more” is that you’re trying to puff things up

Here’s are some typical uses of “and more” from an actual published book:

Beyond just time-management of a project, a project manager provides a multitude of additional functions, including scope identification, project risk management, customer/team communication, resource allocation and management, and much more. . . .

Since there are more demands being made on the penetration test team, having a project manager on hand to deal with resources, schedule, task assignment, tracking, stakeholder communication, risk management, cost management, issue resolution, and so much more, allows projects to stay on track, on time, and on budget.

Or this interview:

Throughout this past year, we have also implemented a plethora of unique features to the THON Information NetworK (THINK) including an entirely new suite of features for the Supply Logistics Committee, a paperless fundraising initiative, online Adopt a Family applications, and so much more.

“Including,” already implies that that there are more cases than you are listing. “And more” is meaningless and redundant. “And much more” is meaningless, redundant, and inflated. “And so much more” is meaningless, redundant, inflated, and a clear signifier of marketing bullshit.

Basically, these phrases say you got tired of listing things and want to imply that there’s better stuff you couldn’t get around to listing. In other words, you’re a lazy writer.

Consider what else this tells your reader. It’s an immediate bullshit signal, like “up to 50% off” — it’s transparent marketing-speak that sounds fake. If the stuff covered by “and more” was any good, you’d have written it down. If you want respect as a writer, you’ll purge this phrase and its equivalents, including “etc.” and “and so on.”

To make things better, use numbers and general descriptions of what else there is that you’re not including:

A project manager’s essential role includes time management, scope identification, project risk management, customer/team communication, resource allocation and management, and all the other activities necessary to make a team productive and fend off interruptions and problems.

We have also implemented an entirely new suite of features for the Supply Logistics Committee, a paperless fundraising initiative, online Adopt a Family applications, and four other applications in support of THON’s mission.

“Is expected to” means you’re embarrassed about your sources

How big is this thing going to get? That’s the context in which I’m usually reading “is expected to,” “is projected to,” or similar phrases.

For example, there’s this from a government report:

Crop production is expected to grow more slowly than GDP. Employment is projected to fall as a result of increased productivity, global competition, increasing consolidation of farms, and a decline in the number of self-employed farmers and unpaid family workers.

Or this from a scientific journal:

Climate change is projected to have severe impacts on the frequency and intensity of peak electricity demand across the United States.

Regular readers of this blog have already noticed that these phrases are in the passive voice. When you say “is expected to” or “is projected to,” you are quoting somebody’s expectations without telling who it is. There are four possible reasons for this, all of them awful:

  1. This is your projection, but you don’t want to take responsibility for it.
  2. You copied this “expected” or “projected” event from somewhere else, but they didn’t have a source and so you don’t either.
  3. You know the source, but don’t want to give credit.
  4. You know the source, but it is such a lame source that quoting it would decrease the credibility of what you are writing.

The problem is, you’re only fooling the most ignorant of your readers. The rest of us know that “is expected to” and “is projected to” signify nothing — you can’t tell if the statement is true unless you know who is expecting or projecting.

Here’s how to rewrite these phrases to make them better.

If it’s your projection, own it. “We expect crop production to grow more slowly than GDP” or even “Crop production will grow more slowly than GDP.”

If it’s copied from a place without a source, get rid of it. Unsourced expectations and projections have no place in your writing.

If you know the source and are proud of it, give them credit. “According to Maximilian Auffhammer in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate change will cause major fluctuations in the frequency and intensity of peak electricity demand across the United States.”

If you know the source and are ashamed of it, either scrap it or take responsibility for it yourself: “I expect the market for cloud storage to top $100 billion in the next five years.”

Don’t distract the reader

A moment of laziness on your part creates these phrases that mark you as a liar or exaggerator. I’m sure you didn’t mean for that to happen. So get sensitive to this language and learn how to fix it.

5 responses to “Curing the lazy writer’s locutions: “and more” and “is expected to”

  1. When I read your “and more” examples, I couldn’t imagine how “longer” would make them better. Then I read your solution:
    “and all the other activities necessary to make a team productive and fend off interruptions and problems.”
    Brilliant. True. And so much more. 🙂
    Thanks!

  2. Useful and practical. If politicians were bound by these we could cut out 50% of the jawboinng. How about writing a book specifically for voters to help them deconstruct political BS.

    PS AUDIBLE version of current book?

  3. Great post, Josh! I’ve been guilty of writing both of these examples before. NO MORE! When the penny drops about this fundamental laziness, it makes me shudder. Thanks for (yet) another great tip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.