Changing your vocabulary

One quick way to improve your style is to avoid repeating key words close together. It also helps to extend your vocabulary, for example, by using synonyms. Find ways to increase your vocabulary so that you can add new words to your writing.

If you are using a word processing package on a computer, you can often do this by ‘right clicking’ the mouse on an individual word and choosing the synonym menu option provided by the software. This will give you many different choices – but care is needed as the software is not foolproof.

Here the writer has done this with the word 'scared':

Passage of text in word processing software with word 'scared' highlighted three times

Improve your vocabulary

1. Highlight the key words which are repeated close together

You can also use a print or online thesaurus and dictionary to help you to generate new words that you can add to your work.

Get into the professional writer’s habit of reading back each sentence and paragraph you write to sense its liveliness and appropriateness for your reader and purpose. Put on your reader’s hat occasionally as you write and see what you can change for the better.

Repetition for effect

News article where the name 'Molly Parsnip' has been highlighted four times, the word 'lorry' has been highlighted four times and the word 'house' has been highlighted twice.Example of repetition

Of course, it is fine to repeat a key word if your purpose is to help the reader remember something. This can be especially useful when writing to persuade.