The magic of a thesaurus is that it can take your business writing from drab to unforgettable.
In Spunk & Bite, author Arthur Plotnik points out the limits to what a thesaurus can do:
- It can’t tell you whether a particular word is perfect or absurd in your context.
- It can’t make the associations your brain can. Flip to sections that may offer figurative alternatives to a synonym. Example: If you’re looking for synonyms for “difficult,” try looking under “uphill” where you’ll find terms such as “grueling” and “Herculean.”
What a thesaurus can do is help you take chances. Good business writing should be clear, sharp and brimming with word choices that make an audience sit up and take notice.
Which thesaurus to use? Nothing beats the print version of Roget’s International Thesaurus. But for ease of use, try these bookmarkable online editions:
- Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus (www.wordsmyth.net)
- Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus (www.m-w.com/home.htm)
- The Visual Thesaurus (www.visualthesaurus.com or www.thinkmap.com).
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