Like writers of fiction, journalism, and poetry, business writers often want to find fresh words to replace the ones they use again and again. I often look for synonyms for important, effective, and information.
In my search for the right synonyms to replace the word information, Microsoft has let me down. In my version of Microsoft Office, when I highlight the word information and press Shift F7, I get no synonyms for information--just a few phrases to replace the phrase "in formation":
in order, in sequence, in turn, in rank, in a row
My disappointment with this Microsoft oversight was the reason I was happy to be reintroduced to the electronic thesaurus Visual Thesaurus. When Visual Thesaurus's website featured my blog recently, I took a peek at their site and decided to test the software using the word information.
I was pleased to see these synonyms among many others:
data, illustration, evidence, input, background, knowledge, statistics, predictor, example, grounds, fact
Of course, depending on my sentence, only certain synonyms will work, and Visual Thesaurus supplies definitions and examples to help writers choose. For example, the word evidence was defined as "your basis for belief or disbelief; knowledge on which to base belief." This sentence showed the word in action:
The evidence that smoking causes lung cancer is very compelling.
The definitions and examples should be helpful to people who write in English as a second, third, or fourth language.
You have to experience Visual Thesaurus to see its power, and the company allows a few free searches to test it. I spent all my searches playing with the word information, so I am going to subscribe and give the thesaurus a 14-day trial to see whether it's a worthwhile tool to add to my desktop.
Caution: If you write procedures, remember that people need the same words used consistently as they follow your steps. You don't want to replace tool with instrument, apparatus, or equipment. If you do, your reader may be thinking, "I found the tool, but where is the instrument?" Sometimes that old familiar word fits perfectly again and again.