words to avoid

Sanat Singha is a technical writer, an editor, a blogger and a web marketing consultant. Contact him at wsigmas@gmail.com

Selection of simple and logical words plays a key role in effective technical writing. This also means avoiding needless, redundant, and weak words in your document. Readers prefer clear, concise, buzzword-free, and familiar words. They help audience better visualize and understand complex concepts.

Here are a few examples of “better to avoid” words that will come in handy.

1. Avoid using ‘I” or “We” in a document. Maintain “Third person” throughout as if you are a reporter.

2. Avoid using “It is”, “There is”, “There are” in a sentence wherever possible. They obscure the main subject and the action by it.

3. Avoid clichés, similes, metaphors, modifiers. Such words are never clear in their meaning but open to clarification.

4. Avoid big words and use short alternatives instead. Consider “Use” instead of “Utilize”; “do” instead of “Implement”, “make easy” or “make possible” instead of “Facilitate”, “end” instead of “finalize” or “Terminate” and so on.

5. Avoid modal verbs such as shall, should, will, would, may, might, can, could, need, ought, and must in your writing. They create resentment and hostility. Use finite verbs instead, preferably in simple present tense.

6. Avoid too many “to be” verbs such as “is”, “was”, “were”, “have been”, “has been” and so on in a sentence.

7. Avoid excess words. Use “arranged” instead of “made arrangements for”, “decided” instead of “made the decision”, “measured” instead of “made the measurement of”, “developed” instead of “performed the development of”, “during” instead of “during the course of”, “If” instead of “in the event of”, “As” instead of “In the form of”, “Plan” instead of “Advance plan”, “Experience” instead of “Actual experience”, and so on.

8. Avoid using “since” or “as” when you mean “because.”

9. Condense subordinate clauses starting with who, which, that into fewer words wherever possible.

10. Avoid redundancy. In the following examples, redundant words are in parenthesis:

(already) existing, never (before), at(the) present (time), (completely) eliminate, (continue to) remain, currently (being), (empty) space, had done(previously), period (of time), now (at this time), start(out), write(out), (still) persists, currently(being), (basic) fundamentals, and so on.

These are only a few samples to begin with. Stay tuned to us for more. You can also share your inputs and keep the discussion on.