choose the right words

How to Choose Words with Intention Every Time

This is part of a series by editor Barbara McNichol to provide tips that help you write like a pro.

Do you find that at times the spoken language slides into your writing, but often the words selected aren’t the exact fit for what you mean?

Consider these sentences:

  • How many executives do what they feel will win approval?
  • The public feels certain people shouldn’t be in the workforce.

Given the context, is “feel” the correct word to express the intended meaning? No, because it doesn’t come from an emotional “feeling” source. Rather, it comes from a conviction based on experience—a place of belief. Because of this, better choices would be:

  • How many executives do what they believe will win approval?
  • The public believes certain people shouldn’t be in the workforce.

Your challenge: Question everything you write against the context. In particular, flag “feel” as a word to watch. Is “feel” the most precise way to convey your intended meaning? If not, pause and find exactly the right one—think, believe, hope, or whichever is accurate.


When you know how to write with precision and accuracy, your professional reputation builds and your career can soar.  Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping business professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a word choice guide Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters with details at


Today’s Word Tripper:

Allude, elude To “allude” means to refer to something casually or indirectly. To “elude” means to avoid or escape by cleverness or speed. ”May the force be with you,” the boy said to his friend, alluding to the movie Star Wars. Then they split up to better their chances of eluding the bully chasing them.”

Related posts by Barbara:

Barbara McNichol, Word TrippersBarbara McNichol works with business professionals to provide expert editing of nonfiction books and help them improve their writing skills. Over the past 22 years, she has placed more than 320 books on her editing “trophy shelf.”

On a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, she offers a monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen as well as a WordShop on Business Writing Essentials and her word choice guide Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word When It Really Matters. Because she keeps tripping over more Word Trippers (pairs such as “except vs. accept” that get mixed up), she produces Word Tripper of the Week ezine (

You can reach Barbara at 520-615-7910 or and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Join the administrative blog-a-thon by commenting below. Ask your questions of Barbara in the comments.


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