SD #42 | Replace Adverbs with Data

#copywriting #marketing business messaging businesswriting May 15, 2023


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Read Time: 3.0 minutes 


I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.

—  Stephen King


What’s the Tip?

Today's tip is the simplest we've ever shared. But it's also one of the most powerful. The tip is this: replace adverbs with data. It comes courtesy of a former Amazon employee turned entrepreneur, Danny Sheridan. 


How Do You Use It?

Danny Sheridan mentions this idea of replacing adverbs with data on his Substack blog entitled, Fact of the Day 1. 

This precept emphasizes the importance of using specific, measurable data to support claims and make decisions.

The idea is to encourage Amazon employees to be data-driven and avoid making vague or subjective statements.

By replacing adverbs with data, Amazon aims to foster a culture of clarity, precision, and accountability.

Employees are expected to support their ideas or assertions with quantifiable data, which helps create a more objective and results-oriented environment.

But you don't have to work at Amazon to benefit from this tip!


What are Some Examples? 

Original: We made the on-time delivery rate much higher.

Revised: We increased the on-time delivery rate by 15bps, from 97.10% to 97.25%. 


Original: The software is user-friendly.

Revised: The software has a 95% user satisfaction rating.


Original: The car is incredibly fuel-efficient.

Revised: The car gets 60 miles per gallon on the highway.


Original: The team significantly improved its performance.

Revised: The team increased its quarterly sales by 25%.


Original: The computer runs exceptionally fast.

Revised: The computer has a processing speed of 4.5 GHz.


Original: The training program greatly reduced employee turnover.

Revised: The training program decreased employee turnover by 40% within six months.


Original: The company is rapidly expanding.

Revised: The company has opened 10 new locations within the past year.


What's the Benefit to You?

The primary benefit of replacing adverbs with data is to add punch and heft to your communications. You'll replace vague statements with clear, strong ones. With increased clarity comes better understanding, a greater chance of persuasion, higher chance of action, more specificity, and deeper levels of trust, credibility, and accountability. 

But there are additional benefits: we're often told things like "don't use adverbs" but without any further instruction. Now, you've got a specific, beneficial action that can make a difference in the quality of your communication.  



  1. 📉 Replace adverbs with data for clear and precise communication (tip from Amazon via Danny Sheridan).
  2. 📚 Danny Sheridan mentions the idea in his Substack blog, "Fact of the Day 1".
  3. 💼 Amazon uses this principle to encourage data-driven decision-making and clarity among employees.
  4. 📊 Replacing adverbs with data leads to objective, results-oriented communication.
  5. 📢 Clear, data-driven statements improve understanding, persuasion, trust, and accountability.
  6. 🚀 Anyone can benefit from this tip, not just Amazon employees. 


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