Words our colleagues hate

All writers and sub-editors have their personal writing bugbears. If you read this blog regularly, you will be familiar with many of Apus's and mine - I, for example, have unresolved issues with the word 'new'.

Today I asked a few of my colleagues (designers, subs and writers) for the bugbear words and phrases they hate to see appear in the pages of our publication. Here's a selection - and note that I don't necessarily agree with all of them:

  • Together with. No! Just use 'with' or 'and'.
  • Interestingly. No! If it's going in the magazine, of course it should be interesting - you don't need to tell the readers so.
  • Of course. No! If it's obvious, why are you mentioning it? If it's not obvious, don't make readers feel small for not knowing something. Is it a sign of insecurity on the part of the writer?
  • Back in (1996, for example). No! Just put 'in 1996'.
  • Explains. Especially in interviews. For example: "We entered this sector because it is growing fast," he explains. It makes the interviewer look as if they're a bit simple.
  • Smiles. For example: "It's a great place to work," he smiles.

Regarding the last one, I don't know whether it is better or worse than 'he said smilingly'. And today I came across 'he concluded indicatively', which is slightly too grandiose...

Smiles: we hate this


4 comments:

garik said...

Elegant variation partly accounts for the last two. Some people are apparently scared of saying "said" more than once in the same volume. Others may avoid it completely, scared that it carries far too little information.

One I'm especially wary of is "he joked". In most cases it's obvious anyway that the speaker was joking. In others, it's not absolutely clear that he was: how much is the quoter assuming? I'd rather have the evidence than the conclusion (e.g. "... he said, before winking ostentatiously and nudging me in the ribs.")

JD said...

Apus is quite opposed to elegant variation being used in our magazine - it is almost part of our house style. He often quotes Fowler's, which attributes its usage to "second-rate writers" and "minor novelists and reporters" (2nd edition)...

Colin said...

You didn't ask me, but here are my two most hated word usages - "leverage" as a verb, and "ask" as a noun.

JD said...

Sorry Col, you were obviously out doing some proper journalism when I conducted my straw poll!

I will endeavour to insert these words into your copy from now on... I mean remove...