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Get to the Point
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Get to the Point!

Use Find and Replace to Improve Your Writing

By Theda C. Snyder

We all use the Replace function, right? So how about using it as part of the last once-over for that important letter, contract or brief? Here are three constructs you can efficiently replace to improve your writing.

1. Try to Do This

If you were to diagram a clause or sentence with the phrase “try and,” you would see why it doesn’t make sense. Only one thing is happening, not two, so “and” is incorrect. Instead, electronically replace this phrase with “try to.” The next word is what someone is actually trying to do, not a separate activity. If “attempt and” doesn’t convey your meaning, “try and” is wrong.

2. Cyndi Lauper Approves This Change

“Unique” means one of a kind. Something cannot be more or less unique than something else. Most writers using this word really mean “unusual.” The tipoff is the use of modifiers like “more,” “so” or “very.” You could Replace All. But on the off chance that you really did mean unique, you might want to use the Find Next function to see each use of “unique” in context.

3. Was There a Collision?

“Impact” has sneaked into our everyday parlance. This Replace exercise is the trickiest because you have to determine if you used this word as a noun or a verb. First search for “impact” used as a verb in sentences like “The ruling impacted the business.” On this first round, replace “impact” with “affect.” The second time through, search for nouns in sentences like “The ruling had an impact on the business.” Search for “impact” and replace it with “effect.”

Habitual Replacing

Maybe you have a go-to phrase you frequently use in first drafts. Don’t overthink your style in the initial word outpour. Then, besides the suggestions here, use Find and (maybe) Replace to improve and vary your word choices.

You Might Also Like …

These past “Get to the Point” posts include words and phrases you might want to Find and Replace:

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workplace injury and workers’ compensation cases throughout California. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 3rd Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at WCMediator.com and on Twitter @WCMediator.

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