Posted by: episystechpubs | May 5, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Sound like a smarty-pants on Cinco de Mayo!

Hello and feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Grab a quesadilla or pollo asado burrito and dig in to the first of several tips from the article “15 Words You Need to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary to Sound Smarter,” by Jennie Haskamp. These tips are directed more toward creative writing, but the information is helpful for writing in general. To avoid confusion, I have made some edits to remove material that doesn’t agree with the JHA Style Guide.

· That

Don’t use that when you refer to people. “I have several friends that live in the neighborhood.” No. No, you don’t. You have friends who. Not friends that.

· Went

I went to school. Or the store, or to church, or to a conference, to Vegas, wherever it is you’re inclined to go. Instead of went, consider drove, skated, walked, ran, flew. There are any number of ways to move from here to there. Pick one. Don’t be lazy and miss the chance to add to your story.

· Honestly

People use honestly to add emphasis. The problem is, the minute you tell your reader this particular statement is honest, you’ve implied the rest of your words were not.

· Absolutely

Adding this word to most sentences is redundant. Something is either necessary, or it isn’t. Absolutely necessary doesn’t make it more necessary. If you recommend an essential course to your new employees, it’s essential. Coincidentally, the definition of essential is “absolutely necessary.” Chicken or egg, eh?

· Very

Accurate adjectives don’t need qualifiers. If you need to qualify it? Replace it.

Very is intended to magnify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. What it does is makes your statement less specific. If you’re very happy? Be ecstatic. If you’re very sad, perhaps you’re melancholy or depressed. Woebegone, even. Very sad is a lazy way of making your point. Another pitfall of using very as a modifier? It’s subjective. Very cold and very tall mean different things to different people. Be specific. She’s 6’3" and it’s 13 degrees below freezing? These make your story better while also ensuring the reader understands the point you’re making.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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