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Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

This was my grade-10 English teacher’s expression for useless verbiage. Other ways to say it: throat-clearing, filler, circumlocution, BS.

Examples (and what to say instead):

a number of   some, many
as a means of   to
as prescribed by   in, under
as to whether    if, whether
at the present time   now
by means of   by, with
concerning   about, on [and don’t misuse ‘concerning’ for ‘of concern’, ‘disturbing’, ‘troubling’]
due to the fact that   since, because
during the time that   during, while
for a/the period of   for
have an adverse effect on   hurt, set back, impair
including but not limited to        including [the ‘but not limited to’ bit doesn’t actually add anything, does it?]
in an orderly fashion   [I can’t think why you’d want to say this in the first place]
in a timely manner   promptly, on time
in accordance with   by, following, under
in addition   also, too
in order for   for
in order that   so
in order to   to
in other words   [remove and rephrase whatever you said before so you don’t then have to clarify it]
in/with regard to   about, on
in relation to   about, to, with
in sum   [a lawyerism that people picked up in 1L; lose it and just summarise/conclude]
in the event that   if
in the process of   [leave it out and don’t replace; it adds nothing]
in view of   because, since
it is interesting to note that   [if you have to say this, it probably isn’t interesting; just leave it out]
pertaining to   about, of, on
please find enclosed/attached   I enclose/attach OR the [whatever it is] is enclosed/attached [even in the days of snail mail, was it really ever a challenge to locate the extra thing in the envelope with the letter? be gone, nineteenth-century nonsense!]
provides guidance to   guides
pursuant to        under, according to
put another way   [see ‘in other words’; you might also want to rethink ‘for greater certainty’, even in contractual drafting]
regarding   about, on
relative to   about, on
set forth in   in
the fact that   [omit and rephrase, so that ‘The fact that the borrower defaulted …’ becomes something like ‘The borrower’s default …’]
the question as to whether   if, whether, the question whether
until such time as   until
with reference to   about
with respect to   about
with the exception of   except

De-clutter your prose by eliminating verbose (and hackneyed) words and phrases.

Next: however

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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