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When a word is added to a dictionary, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s recorded forever. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the word is still appropriate to use in business writing. Some words fall out of usage altogether, some change their meaning, while others just begin to sound quaint.

Words like ‘whilst’, ‘shall’, ‘upon’ and ‘pertain’ ring of tradition, of a wood-panelled office with leather Chesterfield chairs. When you use outdated words, you not only risk the communication being misunderstood, you may inadvertently create a mismatch with your brand.


Key points pertaining to our discussion are listed hereunder.


Key points from our discussion are:


Please peruse the aforementioned agreement, execute it and return it to the undersigned.


Please read the agreement carefully, sign it and return it to me.

Which do you think your readers would prefer?

While it’s not grammatically incorrect to use more traditional words, if you want to come across as modern and innovative, try replacing them with a contemporary alternative. Here is a list to get you started.

Instead ofUse
hencefrom here
hithertountil now
in lieu ofinstead of
peruseread, read carefully
shallwill, must
undersignedI, we

Tradition is not a bad thing in itself. But frequent use of outdated words can change the tone of your writing and give your clients the impression that you are not up-to-date with other aspects of your business. Next time you write a communication think about the impression it conveys. Does the style and tone accurately reflect your brand or is there a mismatch?

Need to translate your workplace documents into Plain English? Contact Concise Writing Consultancy today on 02 9238 6638.