Words to avoid

Please avoid using these words as they can create confusion:

  • agenda (unless it’s for a meeting)
  • advancing
  • collaborate (use working with)
  • combating
  • commit/pledge (we need to be more specific - we’re either doing something or we’re not)
  • countering
  • deliver (pizzas, post and services are delivered - not abstract concepts like improvements or priorities)
  • deploy (unless it’s military or software)
  • dialogue (we speak to people)
  • disincentivise (and incentivise)
  • empower
  • facilitate (instead, say something specific about how you’re helping)
  • focusing
  • foster (unless it’s children)
  • impact (do not use this as a synonym for have an effect on, or influence)
  • initiate
  • key (unless it unlocks something. A subject/thing is not key - it’s probably important)
  • land (as a verb only use if you’re talking about aircraft)
  • leverage (unless in the financial sense)
  • liaise
  • overarching
  • progress (as a verb - what are you actually doing?)
  • promote (unless you’re talking about an ad campaign or some other marketing promotion)
  • robust
  • slimming down (processes do not diet)
  • streamline
  • strengthening (unless it’s strengthening bridges or other structures)
  • tackling (unless it’s rugby, football or some other sport)
  • transforming (what are you actually doing to change it?)
  • utilise (use "use")

Avoid using metaphors – they do not say what you actually mean and lead to slower comprehension of your content. For example:

  • drive (you can only drive vehicles, not schemes or people)
  • drive out (unless it’s cattle)
  • going forward (it’s unlikely we are giving travel directions)
  • in order to (superfluous - do not use it)
  • ring fencing

With all of these words you can generally replace them by breaking the term into what you’re actually doing. Be open and specific.

Taken from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/style-guide/a-to-z-of-gov-uk-style#words-to-avoid.
Read more about plain English and words to avoid.: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-design/writing-for-gov-uk#plain-english

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