It’s funny how certain words or phrases become fashionable. I’m not talking about obvious mots du jour like groovy or wicked, but more discrete verbal fashions.
Iteration, last month’s word of the month, for example, seems to have been popping up all over the place in the last few months, as people presumably try and find a more high falutin’ way of saying version.
Take fit for purpose. Ever since John Reid, then Home Secretary, condemned the immigration service as ‘not fit for purpose‘, it’s become a phrase of choice for everyone from politicians to small business owners. A quick Google throws up, among millions, Sequence diagramming that’s fit for purpose and a cover sheet for small guest accommodation businesses to use as checklist when applying to be ‘Fit For Purpose’. We’ve even received press releases about ‘fit for purpose compost’.
Now, we’re all for rediscovering new words and improving our vocabularies, but it does become a bit annoying (not to say clichéd) when everyone suddenly starts using the same phrases. Not to mention that there are numerous single words that could make the same point more concisely and just as, if not more, clearly.
Readers – like all of us – are busy people. They want to know if and why they should continue reading your text. So in your copywriting, you need to grab their interest quickly, and not make them read through several lines of secondary information before you get to the point.
Forget what you learnt at school or university about starting an essay with a nice nuanced introduction to set the scene. We’re not writing essays. We’re trying to create business writing that grabs and retains the attention of busy readers with a clear and concise message.
The way to do that is to hit them immediately with the key point of what you’re trying to say so that:
- · their interest is piqued and they continue reading or
- · at the very least, they take away your key message, even if they read no further.
Not: John Solicitor studied law at Weeble College, Oxbridge. He qualified in 1987 and proceeded to specialise in property law. He spent the next ten years with a leading Magic Circle firm advising a range of clients. He was made partner in 1997. He joined ABC Solicitors in 1998 as a partner in the property finance team, of which he became head in 2003.
But: John Solicitor is head of our property finance team. He joined ABC Solicitors in 1998 and became head of the team in 2003. Prior to that, blah blah
Not: With 17 partners and 34 other fee earners spread across three offices, our employment team advises a range of clients from local owner managed businesses to national and international PLCs. It is the largest team in the North East and recognised as one of the leading teams outside the Magic Circle.
But: Our employment team is the largest in the North East and recognised as one of the leading teams outside London. We advise clients ranging from owner managed businesses to national and international PLCs, blah blah
This month’s word is Iteration.
It means the repetition of an action or process; or an instance of such repetition. It comes from the Latin iterare – to repeat.
e.g. Can you send me a new iteration of the schedule as I’ve lost mine?
However, it is often used – incorrectly – as posh way of saying version. Strictly speaking, version suggests a new, updated copy of something that has changed since the previous one was produced, whereas iteration is merely another copy of the previous thing.
Big thanks to our ace web designer, Ali at Web2, who sent us a heap more daft headlines to chortle at. After all, it is Friday afternoon…
- Eye drops off shelf
- Squad helps dog bite victim
- Dealers will hear car talk at noon
- Enraged cow injures farmer with axe
- Lawmen from Mexico barbecue guests
- Miners refuse to work after death
- Two Soviet ships collide – one dies
- Two sisters reunite after eighteen years at checkout counter
Check out yet more here:
I’ve a feeling this topic could run and run…