By now, you know how I feel about precision in technical documents. Just in case you don't...precision is vital to your credibility! Meaningless words make your documents less precise and less credible. I can't think of a reason to keep them. Here are four meaningless words to eliminate, plus one bonus word that is almost never used correctly. Let's banish them from our writing!
I have a friend who is a language teacher. Some time ago, we were chatting about differences among U.S., Australian, and British English. She said, "I admire how Americans name things. You call things by what they look like and what they are. Like cotton candy." I asked her what they call it in Australia, and she said "Fairy floss!" I thought of my friend this week, when I read about the new World Health Organization (WHO) best practices for naming human diseases.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how consistency affects technical documents. Don't worry, I'm feeling fine...it's my job to think about this stuff! Loopholes are one of many enemies of consistency. Loopholes are information gaps that detract from precision and accuracy, confuse and frustrate readers, and damage the credibility of your technical documents.