Business Writing Tip #4

Tuesday already and time for another tip in this series. It’s a short one today.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Joe Glaser said why we should do this so well in his book Understanding Style that I’m going to borrow his words.

“Short words are stronger than long ones. They are usually more particular, more concrete, more emphatic. They shrink the distance between writer and reader … Long words widen the gap between writer and reader, sometimes, as in the official style, in order to build the writer up at the reader’s expense.”

The following list gives you plain English alternatives for some commonly used multisyllabic words.

Commonly used words Plain English Replacement
Utilise Use
Disseminate Send out
Ascertain Find out
Strategize Plan
Optimum Best
Straightforward Simple
Uncomplicated Easy

I suggest you visit this link for a comprehensive list of plain English alternatives (“The A to Z of Alternative Words”).

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