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Impressive words don’t

Including long ‘impressive’ words in your content won’t impress many people or make everyone think you are super smart.

In fact, using lots of long words makes your writing harder to read and you appear pompous. A study in 2005 showed a negative relationships between complex writing and perception of the writer’s intelligence – in other words, overuse of big words made readers think the writer was less intelligent.

You may have developed the habit of using a bigger vocabulary at school or university – and teachers do need to see you understand a range of words and technical terms – but it’s a good habit to break when writing business materials.

Keep words and sentences short – write in the same style as you speak – be clear and concise – and your message will be understood which is the point.

27 Responses to Impressive words don’t

  • Godric says:

    I do agree with you on this topic. A very good example would be my high school exams. My friends were busy learning complex words in their answers and i explained it simple. The results were much better in my case as i studied less and saved time which could be utilized elsewhere.

    • tashword says:

      Glad to have your agreement, Godric πŸ™‚

      It it’s true – much better to spend your study time learning the subject matter rather than fancy words that are likely to make it harder to express your answers in an exam.

      • Godric says:

        Also, these might seem a bit out of the context tash. But can you make a post on why we use Capital (I) in the middle of the sentences, whereas we should be using small (i). These is one thing that is bugging me for a long time now.

        Thanks and I really appreciate your posts.

      • tashword says:

        Thanks Godric.

        I have a post about capital letters that may help you. But if I am understanding your question correctly, we always use a capital letter for the word I as it is a proper pronoun (it is used to replace my name which would always have a capital letter, too).

  • Voovle says:

    I personally could not agree more. The way some people use big words just make them sound like they don’t even know what they are talking about. Though in most cases, their inaudible speech goes right through me.

  • kiki says:

    Wow, pretty interesting. If you think clearly… most of the people think that way and the result is that some people will think it’s hard to read your text. You’re right. Great post.

    • tashword says:

      Hi Kikki. Sounds like I got you thinking which is a great compliment to my writing, so thank you! Writing is like so many other things – simple is often the best approach.

  • ranjitrgeorge says:

    I agree to what you have said. But sometimes, we have to use sophisticated words if we are communicating with large corporations. But as I said, sometimes. Precise and simple words are the need of business communications overall. Keep up the great posting!!

    • tashword says:

      hi ranjitgeorge, and thanks for your comment. There is no question that bigger words have their place – it’s just putting a lot of them together often confuses the message and often makes it harder for readers. And people who deliberately use big words to impress often don’t use the words naturally which makes it awkward to read.

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  • onlinebusinessgal says:

    I do see some writers who try to use a lot of “fancy” words on articles or content formats where that type of writing does not fit. I think most people who read articles online and who read blogs, are looking for a more personable approach. They might even be turned off by people trying to use impressisve words. Of course, if you are writing for a very technical source or writing a blog that is geared towards other writers, then this type of writing might be more reasonable.

    • tashword says:

      Generally people reading online want quick and easy – they want information without having to pull out a dictionary!

      I agree that in some contexts you can use more complex words, but I still that even in those situations a simpler approach is best (for example, use the appropriate technical terms for eh audience but keep tech rest of the writing simple.)

      Thanks for leaving a comment, onlinebusinessgal!

  • meowcow says:

    This is a great point which is most of the time overlooked. So props to tash for pointing it out! I always try to use simpler word structures. Not that I’m trying to dumb it down on purpose, but like you said I have left that trait when I finished writing high school essays. It simply does not apply to our current world full of text speak and abbreviations.

    • tashword says:

      I think there is a big difference between dumbing down the content and using words that people can read easily. I use simpler words to appeal to a broader audience and because I assume most people don’t want to read lots of long and unusual words – not because I assume they couldn’t do so if they wanted to.

      And that’s a good point – we use so many abbreviations now that using long words just doesn’t feel right in many cases.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, meowcow.

  • anotherspaceman says:

    This whole entry elucidates the insufficient appreciation of my posts with their abundance of loquaciousness.

    πŸ˜‰

  • Desolie says:

    Tash, I so agree with you.

    Writing is communication – getting the message across clearly. Anything that makes it difficult for readers to understand easily what I want them to know, understand or do needs to be examined.

    That includes vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and logical structure as well as how the text sits on the page or screen.

    My primary concern must always be my reader.

    So if my readers use specialised terms or ‘big’ words in their normal communications, I know I can use that sort of language to convey my message.

  • Randomhero says:

    Whenever I blog post, I always try to come across as if I’m simply talking to the reader in a normal conversation. It makes it feel more understandable to read. Unless I’m giving an extensive review of a supplement product or something at which point I’ll use fancy scientific words to describe the ingredients. Generally I always try to use a level of communication that is understandable to everyone πŸ™‚

    • tashword says:

      Thanks for your comment, Randomhero.

      Writing as you speak is a great guide for getting the vocabulary right.

      Using technical words as appropriate is a different thing (you’re not trying to impress) and surrounding them with easy-to-understand words makes them easier for non-experts to traps.

  • Anna T says:

    I could not agree more! When you’re writing a blog post, you have to keep everyone in mind. If you write using big words, your blog isn’t going to appeal to everyone because some people won’t get what you’re saying. You don’t want to turn any potential new readers off, so it’s best to write in simple terms.

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