Write This, Not That

I am a hopeless sucker for those “eat this, not that” articles. I chalk it up to my desire for a quick validation of my food choices (“I may not eat five servings of vegetables a day, but at least I don’t eat THAT”).

So it goes with wording choices. I have my own menu of phrases that I find unhealthy. In the pursuit of lean prose, I encourage avoiding them. Just as when tempted by a serving of bacon cheese fries at The Outback, sometimes you need to find a healthier alternative.

Due to the fact that: Why say it in five words when one will do? Lop off the excess and just use “Because.”

Methodology: Chances are you don’t mean “the study of methods.” More often than not, “methodology” is just a puffy, rather self-important way of saying “methods,” right? Best to be straightforward and say “methods.”

Be cognizant of: Don’t try to impress us with fussy verbiage. Go with “recognize” and move on.

An increase/decrease in ___ has occurred/was observed: Unless you are being paid by the word, “__ increased/decreased” is much better.

Have an understanding of: Your readers will appreciate not having to slog through this needlessly long way to say “understand.”

Are/is in need of: You detect the pattern now, right? Plain old “need/needs” takes care of this nicely.

See how eliminating these fatty phrases can trim inches off your text’s waistline:

Instead of:

An increase was seen in the rate of patients who had a relapse. However, due to the fact that our study methodology did not include laboratory analysis, we do not yet have an understanding of the mechanism of action. We are cognizant of the fact that we are in need of additional studies in this area.

Try this:

The rate of patients who had a relapse increased. However, because our study methods did not include laboratory analysis, we do not yet understand the mechanism of action. We recognize that additional studies in this area are needed.

I feel healthier already. Although: bacon cheese fries? Mmmmmmmmmm.

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