Why the word ‘significant’ is anything but

The overused modifier is clogging up your copy without adding much value for the reader. Try these alternatives to this hackneyed term.

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How many times per day do you see the word “significant” in corporate communications?

Do you even notice it anymore? The word is used so frequently—in everything from LinkedIn profiles to press releases and annual reports—that it’s lost its meaning.

As any graphics design professor would say: If you bold everything on a page, nothing is bolded. If everything is described as “significant,” nothing is “significant.”

(The exception comes when when you are describing statistical significance. Statistical significance has a separate meaning, best defined here.)

Instead of using “significant” to describe the importance or seriousness of something, be specific and explicit. Explain why something is “significant.” Define what you mean by “significant.”

Below are a few examples:

Significant findings (What made the findings important?)

Unexpected findings; controversial findings; unexplained findings; never-before-seen findings; findings that could lead to the creation of…

Significant growth (How much growth? What did the growth mean?)

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