Fancy for the Sake of Being Fancy

‘Keep it simple’ is good advice – but advice that many lawyers fail to heed.

As soon as I am able
Seen in automatic out-of-office e-mail replies or heard on voicemail.

There is nothing wrong with as soon as I can, and it certainly sounds less pretentious.

For the avoidance of doubt
This phrase is pompous, no doubt about that.

It also indicates that you needed to explain things better in the first place.

Don’t admit failure: avoid it.

Someone recently e-mailed me the latest iteration of the presentation.

So much fancier than a good old draft or version.

But seriously, how much iterating do you really do?

And an iterative process is just work that requires more than one step. (Which is to say, most of what we do.)

Thus is an adverb, so there is no need to add an adverbial –ly ending just to sound all formal.

And come to think of it, you should avoid thus as well – something simple like like this will work just fine, and will sound more normal.

As for thus far, never.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


  1. I’m sure that accurate usage is as important to you as keeping things simple. You’re wrong about an “iterative process”. It’s not work which requires one step. “Iterative” denoted repetition, according to the OED. In computer science. Any step which is repeated (usually until a specified condition is satisfied) is called an ”iterative loop”, usually shortened to “loop”. The essence of iteration is repetition of the same step. A sequence of different steps is a process, a routine, or even a recipe, but unless the steps are identical, it’s not iteration.

  2. Sorry – I meant to say that you were mistaken in describing an iterative process as one which requires more than one step. Apologies for any confusion.

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