Follow us...

Real Words that Work  

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications  
Banishing misused, overused and useless words
Every year, Lake Superior State University in Michigan releases its list of words to banish from English for their “misuse, overuse and general uselessness.” 
The university’s latest list includes “trending,” “guru,” and “double down,” all of which drive me into rants of frustration. I also agree with follow-up commentators who added “going forward,” “leverage,” “take-away,” “deep dive” and “at the end of the day.” They missed “incentivize”, though, a made-up word that affects my breathing.
Readers’ eyes glaze over when you sprinkle these clichés through your writing. No matter what type of writing your work as a BA requires, try to either delete the easy term or substitute a real one with some heft. 
Example: Going forward, we need to take a deep dive into our methodology to incentivize staff. 
Rewrite: We need to look at how we reward our staff. 
Punctuation Tip
In response to reader requests, this column will occasionally include hints on punctuation.
Use a semi-colon to separate complex items in a list that also contains commas. 
Example: Three people attended the meeting: Ron Smith, president of ABC Corp., Toronto; Nancy Jones, CEO of XYZ Ltd., Montreal; and Sidney Foster, CIO of Tech2Solutions, Calgary. 
Patricia Davies is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) with IIBA®, and a regular panelist on the IIBA “Being a BA: Effective Communication” Webinar. Do you have a writing question? Please email to and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.