Office-speak and clichés are so well established, it’s easy to play buzzword bingo in management meetings. It’s less difficult to spot in writing, but a very easy habit to fall into.
Working in a copywriting agency and dealing with words from a variety of sources every day means you soon spot emerging (or fully emerged) trends in vocabulary and word use.
You may have heard the tale of how, in the 1920s, Ernest Hemingway bet ten dollars that he could write a complete story in just six words. He wrote: "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." He won the bet and often referred to the story as his best work ever.
What is it with the word 'access' all of a sudden? You can't move these days without people 'accessing' education, 'accessing' information on the web, 'accessing' resources in the library, or 'accessing' lists of annoying words.
English is renowned for its quirky, often logic-defying spelling rules. Gives it character, a mark of our mongrel heritage, we're told. It doesn't make it any easier to write, though. One common area of confusion is when seemingly the same word has two spelling variations - one with a 'c', and one with an 's'.
They say three's company (don't they? It might be two, but for our sakes, let's say three), and when it comes to fluid, high impact writing, three is certainly the magic number. The rule of three is simple. It says that when you're describing something - the features of a new service or the benefits of a new product - a list of three characteristics is always the most effective.
Good writing is all about clarity - getting your message across clearly and concisely. But in the wrong hands, words can often cloud, rather than clarify, the intended message.