7 ways to ensure you’re using the best words

Don’t get caught deploying words with ambiguous meaning or, worse, incorrect meaning. It will send your audience the wrong message.

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Sperling told Woodward he would “regret” his decision to write a column on President Obama. The journalist said it was a threat; the White House called Woodward’s claim nonsense.

The big lesson for PR professionals was to choose your words cautiously.

Whether you’re pitching reporters or writing emails to colleagues, word selection is important. Crafting prose is mostly a matter of using the right words for the job.

Here are some steps to help you achieve that goal.

1. Look up the definition of an unfamiliar word to ensure you understand the meaning before you use it. It’s easy to deploy a word you’ve just read or heard, mistakenly believing you understand its definition or its connotation, only to confuse or accidentally mislead your readers. Always double-check a term you’ve never used before. Consider doing the same with words you’ve used before and think you know.

2. Search a thesaurus or a synonym finder for the precise meaning, taking care to notice the different connotations of similar words. Flag stock words and phrases, and thumb or click through a print or online resource to select a more exact or accurate synonym. Be alert to seemingly similar words with distinct senses.

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