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The effect your words create
  The choices you can make
  Things to avoid

Finding the best words

Being concise

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Finding the best words

A thesaurus can help you find words to use.

You look up a word, and the thesaurus gives you other words to use instead. You can then see which word might be the best, by checking its meaning in a dictionary.

Here are some words a thesaurus suggests instead of the word wad:
stopper; stop; plug; bun; stuffing; pad.

Clear writing often uses simple words. Good writing is understandable, not necessarily 'fancy'.

The following sentences have the same meaning, but the first is clearer and easier to read.

It rained so hard that the plants were flattened.

*The precipitation was such that the botanical specimens were rendered horizontal.

However, academic words need to be precise (i.e. mean exactly what you intend) and 'everyday' words may not be precise enough.

You may find, therefore, that academic writing uses more unusual, longer or more complex words than you would use in everyday speech.

© Learning & Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University 2004