Monthly Archives: August 2015

Choosing the right word

The words you choose to describe important content and issues in your document can set the tone for your document, and influence the reaction of your readers. Choosing the right word can make all the difference to your document.  Take special care with words in titles. If the title doesn’t have the right words, or is unclear, confusing or offensive, some readers may not read on.

Consider these examples:

  • Are people described as clients, customers, consumers or stakeholders?
  • Are older people described as seniors, the elderly, the aged, pensioners or retirees?
  • Are women described as ladies, girls, females or women?
  • Are people who walk described as vulnerable road users, pedestrians or active transport users?

Language is always changing, so be aware of changing trends in meanings and preferred terms. Large organisations may have a style guide to provide guidance. An editor can advise whether the words you have used are the best for your document and audience, or may be inappropriate.

For more, see our March 2014 post on inclusive language – be inclusive by using gender-neutral or gender-free language.

Impress with simplicity

Right with Rhonda helps you impress the people you need to impress with words. But you don’t need to use long words, long phrases or long sentences to impress people. To communicate clearly, use the shortest form of a word and use a verb not a noun phrase.

For example, use

  • in, not within
  • use, not utilise
  • start, not commence
  • investigate, not conduct an investigation
  • evaluate, not undertake an evaluation.

Ask yourself: do the extra letters and words add to the meaning or not? If the extra words are not needed, delete them. Of course, sometimes a longer word or phrase is needed to clearly convey a specific meaning. As much as possible, keep it simple and short.