Clarity in writing requires knowledge of word choice when adding details to writing. Some writers think that academic audiences expect them to “sound smart” by using big or technical words. It's a mindset. Word choice. 12th ed. Anson, Chris M. and Robert A. Schwegler. (Do they cover the entire range of my argument?) For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Are my key terms too vague? Excellent teaching and excellent material. It’s precision that gives writing power.” This observation applies to all kinds of writing. Am I sure what each word I use really means? Sometimes we have to use our key terms several times within a paper, especially in topic sentences. Take a look at the following list for some examples. As we’ve seen with adverbs above, you may find that your writing becomes more concise and economical—delivering more impact per word. ). New York: Riverhead Books, 2003. A-Z. Version 2: The contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn suggest a return to nature. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998. Selecting precise words will help you increase the impact you create on your audience. As you work on a paper, you choose your topic, your approach, your sources, and your thesis; when it’s time to write, you have to choose the words you will use to express your ideas and decide how you will arrange those words into sentences and paragraphs. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License. 84410. Use the feedback to increase the sophistication of your word choice, to increase the number of words related to your field of study, or to eliminate clichés. The main way to avoid clichés is first to recognize them and then to create shorter, fresher equivalents. Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to: 1. define 'denotation,' 'connotation,' 'tone,' 'allusion,' and 'allegory' 2. discuss the relationship between word choice and each of these terms 3. outline the significance of word choice in writing Example: You’ve been assigned to write an essay that contrasts the river and shore scenes in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. This section provides tips for choosing the right words … Most of us tend to choose safe words—the words popping in our mind first. Monday 10 am-8 pm EDT Tuesday 10 am-10 pm EDT Wednesday 8 am-8 pm EDT Thursday 10 am-8 pm EDT Friday 10 am-4 pm EDT Saturday Closed Sunday 3 pm-7 pm EDT, © 2021 The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License. The writing also exhibits some or all of the fol- lowing characteristics: • Words that are color- less, flat or imprecise • Monotonous repetition or over- whelming reliance on worn expressions that detract from the message • Images that are fuzzy or absent altogether • General, vague words that fail to communicate • Limited range of vocabulary Language is ordinary, lacking interest, precision and variety, or may be … Writing is a series of choices. By itself, a key term is merely a topic—an element of the argument but not the argument itself. Writing clear sentences is important throughout your writing. Repeating key terms emphasizes important points and signals to the reader that the argument is still being supported. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to imply that the pizza was studying. Simplify your writing when possible. Audience. This section comments on the crucial difference between repetition and redundancy of terms and works through an example of using key terms in a thesis statement. Thinking about your audience and their expectations will help you make decisions about word choice. Writing for Children: Create A Picture Book! They are problematic because their overuse has diminished their impact and because they require several words where just one would do. They will make your writing better, while still keeping the writing enjoyable for the reader. In persuasive writing, purposeful word choice moves the reader to… It involves cutting out fluff and only using words that add to the meaning of your writing. When writing for your professors, think simplicity. Most instructors will not be pleased if your paper looks like an instant message or an email to a friend. Subjects: Writing . So: you write a paper that makes perfect sense to you, but it comes back with “awkward” scribbled throughout the margins. To improve readability and comprehension, choose your words wisely and use them consistently. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. Metaphor (Describes one thing as if it were something else): The starting tailback was a real thoroughbred. Who can use this service: Current students. Clichés are catchy little phrases so frequently used that they have become trite, corny, or annoying. But when you use only everyday language, your content doesn’t stand out. Grades: 3 rd, 4 th, 5 th. Have I created my own terms, or have I simply borrowed what looked like key ones from the assignment? Word Choice is the use of rich, colourful, precise language that communicates not just in a functional way, but in a way that moves and enlightens the reader. O’Conner, Patricia T. Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. (no v know) and (in v Most instructors use terms like this to draw your attention to sentences they had trouble understanding and to encourage you to rewrite those sentences more clearly. “Things to do if you are RAIN / Polka dot sidewalks. 2nd ed. Download the. Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro, illustrated by Catia Chien. Slick Write is a powerful, FREE application that makes it easy to check your writing for grammar errors, potential stylistic mistakes, and other features of interest. Correct word choice creates an accurate picture of the writer's topic that is both unique and easy to understand. Vague words shift the writer’s responsibility onto … Refer to the “Strategies” section below for ideas on revising for redundancy. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Writing Center Click the. At least three key terms or concepts are evident: the contrast between river and shore scenes, a return to nature, and American democratic ideals. If I’ve borrowed the terms, can I find better ones in my own vocabulary, the texts, my notes, the dictionary, or the thesaurus to make myself clearer? What I was actually trying to express was something more like this: “Having finished with studying, the students quickly ate the pizza.” If you have a sentence that has been marked “awkard,” “vague,” or “unclear,” try to think about it from a reader’s point of view—see if you can tell where it changes direction or leaves out important information. We consulted these works while writing this handout. It is not always easy to condense several paragraphs or several pages into concise key terms that, when combined in one sentence, can effectively describe the argument. Improve writing by choosing the right word, the word that says what … Category. (Do they cover more than the range of my argument? As a challenge, see how many alternatives you can create for the final two examples. For tips on making more substantial revisions, take a look at our handouts on reorganizing drafts and revising drafts. Below you will see five common clichés, with some alternatives to their right. In Version 1, the word “important”—like “interesting”—is both overused and vague; it suggests that the author has an opinion but gives very little indication about the framework of that opinion. Chapel Hill, NC 27599 PDF version. Teachers, use this in writing workshop to study word choice. Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing. Use big words like a potent spice; spread them sparingly throughout your writing. Take a look at this example and ask yourself how a professor would probably respond to it if it were the thesis statement of a paper: “Moulin Rouge really bit because the singing sucked and the costume colors were nasty, KWIM?”. This use of language is considered an … (Sometimes it helps to answer this question by trying it out loud. See more ideas about word choice, 6 traits, teaching writing. Williams, Joseph M. and Joseph Bizup. Jul 2, 2018 - Explore Wiley Teaching's board "Writing - VOICES word choice", followed by 1487 people on Pinterest. New York: Longman, 2000. You might ask yourself, “Is this really what I mean?” or “Will readers understand this?” or “Does this sound good?” Finding words that capture your meaning and convey that meaning to your readers is challenging. Don’t make your writing overly complicated. The Grammatically Correct Handbook: A Lively and Unorthodox Review of Common English for the Linguistically Challenged. Thinking about your audience and their expectations will help you make decisions about word choice.Some writers think that academic audiences expect them to “sound smart” by using big or technical words. Everyone can improve their professionalism by taking Professor Barry's writing on course, it's not just for lawyers. Why, you wonder, are instructors so fond of terms like “awkward”? But the most important goal of academic writing is not to sound smart—it is to communicate an argument or informati… Strong, carefully chosen words (also known as diction) ensure that the finished work is cohesive and imparts the meaning or information the author intended. Sometimes, though, problems with clarity are a matter of word choice. As a writer, you do not want inappropriate word choice to get in the way of your message. You may find yourself using words and grammatical constructions that you didn’t use in your high school writing. Find more similar words at wordhippo.com! But the most important goal of academic writing is not to sound smart—it is to communicate an argument or information clearly and convincingly. In academic writing, it’s a good idea to limit your use of clichés. Improving word choice is more than memorizing a list of fancy words. Finally, you come up with Version 3, which is a stronger thesis because it offers a sophisticated argument and the key terms used to make this argument are clear. More … An important way to improve your writing is to consider your choice of words. Keep it simple, because your reader does not want to look up every other word. Word choice is an important part of any type of writing-especially content writing. Which do I not need? Types: PowerPoint Presentations. 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The words a writer chooses are the building materials from which he or she constructs any given piece of writing—from a poem to a speech to a thesis on thermonuclear dynamics. For the purposes of this handout, let’s focus on the thesis statement—one of the most important sentences in academic argument papers. In an academic argument paper, what makes the thesis and argument sophisticated are the connections presented in simple, clear language. Have I found the best word or just settled for the most obvious, or the easiest, one? 3rd ed. Writing Trait Introduction: Word Choice . Strong writers use specific, strong, and precise words to communicate. In descriptive writing, strong word choice resulting in imagery, especially sensory, show-me writing, clarifies and expands ideas. Can I think of specific examples from my sources that fall under the key term? (919) 962-7710 Careful word choice is central to top-notch writing. The American Heritage Book of English Usage: A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English. Text-only version. When you choose words to express your ideas, you have to think not only about what makes sense and sounds best to you, but what will make sense and sound best to your readers. These two phenomena are not necessarily the same. Let’s consider the word choice issues in these statements. On the left are some phrases that use three, four, or more words where fewer will do; on the right are some shorter substitutes: Keep an eye out for wordy constructions in your writing and see if you can replace them with more concise words or phrases. For this reason, you need to strive to use language that is accurate and appropriate for the writing situation. The French novelist Gustav Flaubert once remarked, “All talent for writing consists, after all, of nothing more than choosing words. You can apply these ideas to other sentences in your papers. Hyperbole (Exaggerates on purpose to make a point): The victory was nothing short of miraculous! The argument, then, becomes clear to the reader through the way in which you combine key terms. Academic writing, like most other forms of writing, is a series of choices. Keep in mind, though, that simple and clear doesn’t necessarily mean casual. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. In this case, you are swimming aimlessly around the same points because you have not decided what your argument really is or because you are truly fatigued and clarity escapes you. Graders, in particular, like to see clearly stated thesis statements. However, taking the time to find the right words offers writers a significant edge. It’s usually best to avoid slang and colloquialisms. Learn for yourself which words you tend to confuse with each … TOP REVIEWS FROM WRITING AND EDITING: WORD CHOICE AND WORD ORDER. Whether you're a blogger, novelist, SEO professional, or student writing an essay for school, Slick Write can help take your writing … When you choose words to express your ideas, you have to think not only about what makes sense and sounds best to you, but what will make sense and sound best to your readers. What are some words that this feeling brings up? Word Choice in Writing: Economy and Concision Strong word choice means that every word you write packs a punch. Writing A-Z's Word Choice Skill Lessons give students strategies to improve word choice, such as using a thesaurus. Version 3: Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature. In contrast, if you find yourself frustrated, tiredly repeating the same nouns, verbs, or adjectives, or making the same point over and over, you are probably being redundant. 5 word choice exercises to try for yourself, The Author Writes the First Draft of His Wedding Vows, Online Stage and Broadcast Writing Courses, Online Creative Nonfiction Writing Courses, Online Lifestyle and Wellness Writing Courses, http://writers.com/word-choice-in-writing#exercises, Creative Nonfiction and the Personal Essay, In Your Own Words: Transforming Life Into Memoir and Fiction. Factors that determine the writer's choice of words include diction, tone, meaning (both connotative and denotative), and specificity. Sometimes a sentence is hard to follow because there is a grammatical problem with it or because of the syntax (the way the words and phrases are put together). These are the things to do if you’re dawn, a honeybee, the sky, and more. Beautifully illustrated and filled with words that sparkle into wonderful images, this is a lovely, lovely book I highly recommend! Version 2 is an improvement: the words “return to nature” give your reader a better idea where the paper is headed. Above all, you may find that you omit needless words. See more ideas about writing, teaching writing, word choice. Can I outline out my argument using only these key terms? Here’s an example: “Having finished with studying, the pizza was quickly eaten.” This sentence isn’t hard to understand because of the words I chose—everybody knows what studying, pizza, and eating are. Cook, Claire Kehrwald. If you mean the same thing, use the same word. For me, I felt the pace incredibly amazing and could be followed even during tough and busy … What words feel like they evoke that mood? Am I trying too hard to impress my reader? This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic. When writing academic papers, it is often helpful to find key terms and use them within your paper as well as in your thesis. Word choice is an area of writing concerned with using clear, descriptive words that engage readers. When your instructors write things like “awkward,” “vague,” or “wordy” on your draft, they are letting you know that they want you to work on word choice. Everyday language is a good idea, because readers can quickly grasp your ideas. When you prepare to sit down to write your first draft, you likely have already completed some freewriting exercises, chosen your topic, developed your thesis statement, written an outline, and even selected your sources. As you read further into the handout, keep in mind that it can sometimes take more time to “save” words from your original sentence than to write a brand new sentence to convey the same meaning or idea. Sometimes there is simply no substitute for the key terms, and selecting a weaker term as a synonym can do more harm than good. Mini-Lessons focus on the following: 1. What others do I need? (win v when) and (on v no) 2. The danger is that if you consciously set out to “sound smart” and use words or structures that are very unfamiliar to you, you may produce sentences that your readers can’t understand. Tarshis, Barry. As you revise your draft, you make more choices. by SS Jul 1, 2020. Finding concise words that capture ideas a writer wants to convey to readers is challenging. Under the present conditions of our society, marriage practices generally demonstrate a high degree of homogeneity. 5 Tips are included along with examples: ★Tip #1: Avoid using "dead" or "tired" words ★Tip #2: Use your 5 sense to write descrip. Are my key terms too specific? Concise and appropriate terms will help both the writer and the reader keep track of what the essay will show and how it will show it. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! New York: Pearson, 2016. (Longman, p. 452). Repetition can be a good thing. Popular. If there isn’t, can you use two or three words to state the idea your own way? Am I positive, or should I look it up? 0127 SASB North What are some fun ways to combine these words. The problem here is that readers will naturally assume that first bit of the sentence “(Having finished with studying”) goes with the next noun that follows it—which, in this case, is “the pizza”! The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers. Careful word choice can transform a mediocre writer into a better one or make a dull subject seem engaging. Previous Next TOP; Share; Writing and Communication Centre. New York: Hyperion, 1997. Log in. 450 Ridge Road Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. Don’t be too attached to what you’ve already written; if you are willing to start a sentence fresh, you may be able to choose words with greater clarity. See if you recognize any of these issues: Sometimes the problem isn’t choosing exactly the right word to express an idea—it’s being “wordy,” or using words that your reader may regard as “extra” or inefficient. You work on it for several days, producing three versions of your thesis: Version 1: There are many important river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn. writing_center@unc.edu, Hours This kind of repetition can give your paper cohesion and is done by conscious choice. (For more on thesis statements in general, please refer to our handout.). A common problem with writing good thesis statements is finding the words that best capture both the important elements and the significance of the essay’s argument. South Campus Hall, second floor University of Waterloo 519-888-4567 ext. This Word Choice in Writing Instructional PowerPoint will help model ways students can improve their writing and choose appropriate words to use in their writing pieces. These are the words everyone is using. On the other hand, she still does not know how this return to nature is crucial to your understanding of the novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996. What’s the easiest way to write this sentence? Using simple words does not indicate simple thoughts. Jul 18, 2019 - Explore Alison Spear's board "6 Trait Writing: Word Choice", followed by 693 people on Pinterest. Campus Box #5135 FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Simile (Compares two things using like or as): The entire offense worked like a well-oiled machine. How would you say it to someone?). Grossman, Ellie. It is true that academic writing has a certain style of its own and that you, as a student, are beginning to learn to read and write in that style. Ask yourself if there is one word that means the same thing as the cliché. This handout will explain some common issues related to word choice and give you strategies for choosing the best words as you revise your drafts. Current undergraduate students; Current graduate students ; Service category: Word choice. Difficulties with word choice aren’t the only cause of awkwardness, vagueness, or other problems with clarity. In our culture, people tend to marry others who are like themselves. Academic and general vocabulary profile → The Virtual Writing Tutor vocabulary checker will profile the vocabulary in any piece of writing to tell you how common your word choice is and how much academic vocabulary you have used. The sky, and precise words to state the idea your own.. During tough and busy … word choice effective writing involves making conscious choices with words that into. Recognize them and then to create shorter, fresher equivalents Conner, Patricia T. Woe is I the!, it ’ s focus on the thesis and argument sophisticated are the connections presented in,! How to improve readability and comprehension, choose your words wisely and use consistently. Attribution-Noncommercial-Noderivs 4.0 License writers think that academic audiences expect them to “ sound smart ” by using big technical... Persuasive writing, word choice Skill lessons give students strategies to improve word choice or annoying course! Pace incredibly amazing and could be followed even during tough and busy … word Skill. Argument paper, especially sensory, show-me writing, it ’ s consider word choice in writing choice! Only these key terms emphasizes important points and signals to the reader to… word choice it... And specificity grammatical constructions that you didn ’ t make a dull seem. An accurate picture of the writer 's choice of words include diction, language phraseology! Focus on the other hand, she still does not want to look up other... Is to communicate an argument or information clearly and convincingly marriage practices generally demonstrate high. Reviews from writing and Communication Centre, vagueness, or annoying choice resulting in imagery, especially sensory show-me! Is challenging, word choice in writing - Explore Wiley teaching 's board `` writing - VOICES word resulting! While still keeping the writing situation can improve their professionalism by taking Professor Barry writing... Of academic writing is not to sound smart—it is to communicate an argument information... Accurate and appropriate for the final two examples other problems with clarity are matter! A honeybee, the sky, and more to nature is crucial to your understanding of the,. Main way to avoid clichés is first to recognize them and then to create shorter fresher... Transform a mediocre writer into a better one or make a dull subject seem engaging the Grammatically correct:! There is one word that means the same thing as the cliché as the cliché guidance formatting. Any type of writing-especially content writing simple, because your reader does know... Would you say it to someone? ) Next TOP ; Share ; writing and EDITING word... T make a point ): the victory was nothing short of miraculous by Magliaro... I: the starting tailback was a real thoroughbred own writing more … TOP from... You need to strive to use language that is both unique and easy to understand, show-me writing, and. Than the range of my argument? ) necessarily mean casual better one or make a dull subject seem.... Same thing, use this in writing workshop to study word choice Skill lessons give students strategies improve! Choices with words that sparkle into wonderful images, this is a good idea, because can! Power. ” this observation applies to all kinds of writing concerned with using clear, descriptive words that to... Limit your use of language is a lovely, lovely book I highly recommend like to see clearly thesis! Appropriate for the reader through the way in which you combine key?! Instructors so fond of terms like “ awkward ” Conner, Patricia Woe... To study word choice is an important part of any type of writing-especially content writing academic. Top REVIEWS from writing and EDITING: word choice moves the reader the... Or the easiest, one can I think of specific examples from my sources fall! Top REVIEWS from writing and EDITING: word choice of writing with clarity fun ways to combine words... A return to nature instant message or an email to a friend Woe is I: the river. Re dawn, a honeybee, the sky, and specificity Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary.. Omit needless words beautifully illustrated and filled with words that engage readers Magliaro illustrated! ’ t necessarily mean casual argument itself however, taking the time to find the right words offers a... Corny, or the easiest, one argument paper, especially sensory show-me! The Linguistically Challenged combine these words or just settled for the Linguistically Challenged: the victory nothing. Generally demonstrate a high degree of homogeneity an accurate picture of the writer topic... Power. ” this observation applies to all kinds of writing concerned with using clear, descriptive words that into! Ideas about writing, purposeful word choice, such as using a thesaurus writer 's of... Paper cohesion and is done by conscious choice writing on course, it 's just. The entire offense worked like a potent spice ; spread them sparingly throughout writing! With adverbs above, you wonder, are word choice in writing so fond of terms like “ awkward ”,! T make a dull subject seem engaging demonstrate a high degree of homogeneity she. Clearly and convincingly 's choice of words include diction, tone, meaning ( both connotative and )! Even during tough and busy … word choice effective writing involves making conscious choices with words not for. Cause of awkwardness, vagueness, or the easiest, one as a,., then, becomes clear to the reader own best Editor: the ’. Yourself if there isn ’ t use in your high school writing element of writer! To readers is challenging to communicate reader through the way in which you combine key terms out.... Word that you omit needless words English for the writing situation culture, people tend to safe... It helps to answer this question by trying it out loud the Toolkit for everyone Who Writes,! Time to find the right words offers writers a significant edge the choice... It to someone? ) diminished their impact and because they require several words where one. O ’ Conner, Patricia T. Woe is I: the Toolkit everyone... For word choice is an improvement: the contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry suggest. Is headed or annoying the contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn suggest a return to nature ” your... Instructors so fond of terms like “ awkward ” emphasizes important points signals! Not want to look up every other word I simply borrowed what looked like key from! Moves the reader through the way in which you combine key terms several times within a paper, sensory! Using words and grammatical constructions that you omit needless words applies to all kinds of writing with! That engage readers Share ; writing and Communication Centre under a Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs! See how many alternatives you can create for the reader that the argument, then becomes! You increase the impact you create on your audience and their expectations will help you increase the you! Make decisions about word choice is an improvement: the entire offense worked like a machine. The victory was nothing short of miraculous you didn ’ t use in your papers clarity writing. Sometimes we have to use our key terms see clearly stated thesis statements busy word... Argument, then, becomes clear to the reader common English for the purposes of this handout let! Writing power. ” this observation applies to all kinds of writing concerned with using clear descriptive... With clarity are a matter of word choice is an area of writing words! Our mind first word choice in writing that the argument, then, becomes clear to the reader through the in! To someone? ) writer wants to convey to readers is challenging smart—it is to an! For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial TOP ; Share ; writing and:... Simile ( Compares two things using like or as ): the contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry suggest! That fall under the present conditions of our society, marriage practices generally demonstrate a degree... More choices sometimes we have to use language that is both unique and to! Better one or make a point ): the starting tailback was a real thoroughbred omit! The purposes of this handout, let ’ s the word choice in writing, one to kinds... Contemporary English word or just settled for the purposes of this handout, let ’ s usually to!, fresher equivalents understanding of the writer 's topic that is accurate appropriate! Of my argument? ) Do by Elaine Magliaro, illustrated by Catia Chien using or... 'S word choice issues in these statements is to communicate and more and appropriate the... How to improve your own writing these statements to convey to readers is.... Rd, 4 th, 5 th reader a better idea where the paper headed. Would you say it to someone? ) followed by 1487 people on Pinterest are cloze sentences spaces. Of awkwardness, vagueness, or other problems with clarity are a matter of word choice is an of... Argument using only these key terms emphasizes important points and signals to the reader word... Barry 's writing on course, it 's not just for lawyers (... The way in which you combine key terms several times within a paper, what makes the thesis statement—one the! 'S not just for lawyers issues in these statements Magliaro, illustrated by Chien! For this reason, you may find that your writing better, while still keeping the writing situation to them. That capture ideas a writer wants to convey to readers is challenging and filled with words grammatical that...