Tip: Use common words whenever possible

Whenever possible, use common words. Words that nearly every adult is likely to understand. Words that don't require a trip to the dictionary.

Your aim in all business and professional writing is to get your message across quickly and clearly. Using common words is a plain language trick that really helps. It's a simple way to spruce up your writing, making it more concise and more readable.

You'll find hundreds of examples, once you start looking. Here are a few for starters:

  • not in lieu of but instead of
  • not subsequent to but after
  • not under the provisions of but under.

Experiment. Wouldn't your writing be clearer if you used:

  • not transformation but change
  • not outcomes but results
  • not prioritized but most important
  • not stakeholder but you or —well, stop and think who you really mean!

200 examples of unnecessarily complicated words, and alternatives, were published by the Local Government Association (UK) in March 2009.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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4 Comments

Words on a page » Blog Archive » A few links for the end of the week - A blog about writing, in its various forms
Words on a page » Blog Archive » A few links for the end of the week - A blog about writing, in its various forms

February 20, 2010

[…] writing, use common words whenever […]

Robert
Robert

February 24, 2010

Excellent Opportunity to Study
1) Many people still think of online education as a way to take an extra class to supplement their brick-and- mortar education. However, online education, or distance learning, is becoming an increasingly popular way to complete an entire degree. More people are turning to distance learning to complete associates, bachelors and masters degrees……
www.sangambayard-c-m.com

Rachel
Rachel

February 24, 2010

Richard, I’ve taught one of those very courses online, and I guess every university has them. But if you Google “3 month diploma”, you’ll find about 4,590,000 results for that key phrase. So our diploma model is far from unusual.

Tweets that mention Contented: content that makes people happy » Blog Archive » Tip: Use common words whenever possible -- Topsy.com
Tweets that mention Contented: content that makes people happy » Blog Archive » Tip: Use common words whenever possible -- Topsy.com

January 28, 2010

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