Posted by: episystechpubs | August 26, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Function and Functionality

Now here are two words that know how to cause trouble: function and functionality. One of our savvy readers asked me about these two words the other day and provided several examples from JHA documentation. She wanted to know which word was correct in the different situations. Ah, this is one of those questions I’ve been dreading. Why? Because it is another case of taking some perfectly decent nouns (function, role, purpose, process, etc.), replacing those words with a word that is 1) longer, 2) almost exactly the same word, 3) more vague—and then overusing the word until editors everywhere go bald from trichotillomania.

Here are the definitions of function and functionality that apply to our circumstances (from Merriam-Webster):

· function (noun)

The action for which a person or thing is specially fitted, used, or responsible or for which a thing exists: the activity appropriate to the nature or position of a person or thing: role, duty, work. [KC – Other synonyms include: purpose, job, task, process.]

· functionality (noun)

The quality, state, or relation of being functional: utility, interrelation. [KC – Other synonyms include: usefulness, purpose, use, performance, range of capabilities.]

Yes, they are both real words. Yes, you can use both of them. But please, before you opt for sounding fancy, look at the definitions and synonyms for both words. Ask yourself:

· Which word fits my situation the best?

· Which word provides the most clarity?

· Is there a synonym that fits even better?

And please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, don’t use it more than once per sentence or paragraph. Your editors thank you.

Thanks to Jolie L. for the grammar humor!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: