The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Clear, Concise Sentences

Avoid using vague nouns

Try to avoid using the following vague, all-purpose nouns, which sometimes lead to wordiness, especially when used in prepositional phrases.

  • factor
  • aspect
  • area
  • situation
  • consideration
  • degree
  • case

Examples

Vague: Consumer demand is rising in the area of services.

Precise: Consumers are demanding more services.

Vague: Strong reading skills are an important factor in students' success in college.

Precise: Students' success in college depends on their reading skills.

Vague: Photography took on new aspects during the Civil War.

Precise: The Civil War saw the advent of graphic battlefield photography.