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  • Writer's pictureJean Dion

Writing Tip: Clear Your Vocabulary Palette

Writing tip

As writers, we spend a lot of time each day reading the words of others. Technical writers, like me, are almost always surrounded by research documents packed tight with complex, lingo-laden sentences.


If you’re reading studies (and everyone should become best friends with Google Scholar), the problem is especially acute.


Researchers love to create content filled with something editors call noun strings. These are several-word phrases in which multiple nouns are all connected to modify the last one in the chain.


Chances are, you’ve seen an article that references something like computer software update notifications or sales team performance incentive programs. Putting all of these words together takes time, but if you read enough of them, they may begin to seem normal or even natural.


If you’re not careful, this type of language can slide into your own writing.


It’s a little like picking up an accent during a long visit to Texas. When you’re surrounded by something, it creeps into your language.


I use tools like Grammarly to check my writing and ensure it’s as clean and clear as it could be. However, preventing the problem is even better.

Here's my writing tip: Use a palette cleanser after performing background research.

I look for something that’s completely unrelated to the topic that I’m writing about. Better yet, I seek out content that hasn’t been optimized for web search and is primarily visual.


I cruise through real estate listings regularly, as they typically have plenty of photos, charted information, and written descriptions. In a pinch, I’ll watch 15 minutes of a Netflix show that’s light on scripted information (like Queer Eye).


A quick break like this ensures that I can break up complex sentences into clever, engaging content that my clients are looking for. To me, it’s considered time well spent.


I’m always on the lookout for a good project. If you have one, let’s talk!


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