It can be easy to just go along with formal, wordy and awkward wording, especially if your Legal team has a chance to review articles before you publish them. (Sorry, lawyers, but you know you aren’t comfortable with informal!) But please don’t.

I’ve been editing copy this week, and here are some of the awkward phrases I found and changed:

  • We are in need of:  What’s wrong with “We need”?
  • In support of:  As above; “we support” or “supporting” will work just fine
  • They were appreciative:  They appreciated
  • Has engaged in a process of reviewing:  Reviewed

Fortunately, I didn’t run across the following words during the most recent review, but these are some of the words that drive me crazy, mostly because you will never hear them in normal conversation with a friend:

  • eschew
  • whither
  • incentivize or incent
  • utilize
  • monetize
  • mitigate

You may be faced with someone who changes your perfectly natural-sounding words using some of the ones noted here. My advice is to challenge that person. Cite readability statistics if you have to, or mention that you want to make sure the people whose first language isn’t English will understand it. But whatever you do, for the love of language, just say “no”!

Image credit: “ningmilo” and