Do you ever find yourself using the same word over and over? Writing this blog, for example, we sometimes find ourselves overusing the word \u201cword.\u201d It\u2019s hard not to when you\u2019re trying to come up with useful words to talk about other words (and\u00a0Microsoft Word)! Word, word, word, word\u2026\n\nBut it\u2019s a good idea to vary the language you use sometimes. And on that note, try keeping these tips on word variation in mind.\nWhen to Vary Your Words\nGenerally, a bit of repetition is fine. In academic writing, for example, consistent terminology is vital for clarity. So you shouldn't vary key technical terms. But you may want to vary your word choice if:\n\n \tYou overuse common words, such as \u201chowever\u201d or \u201cbecause.\u201d\n \tUsing the same word repeatedly affects how your writing flows.\n \tYou want to add some linguistic flavor or a stylistic flourish.\n\nUsing Word Variation Effectively\nWord variation is easiest while editing your work, so don\u2019t worry about it too much during the first draft of a document. However, when you have a first draft, go back through what you\u2019ve written and:\n\n \tLook out for words that pop up repeatedly.\n \tTry swapping a few of them for synonyms.\n \tRead the passages out loud to see how well they flow.\n \tDon\u2019t be afraid to reuse shorter, common words (there will always be multiple "ands" and "buts" in a document of any length).\n\nOne case where you might want to vary your words is when the same term occurs twice in the same sentence or in successive sentences. For example:\nCats\u00a0were first domesticated 7,000 years ago, and the Ancient Egyptians worshiped\u00a0cats for their elegance and poise.\nRepeating \u201ccats\u201d at the start and end of this sentence is not ideal, so we\u2019d want to edit it. This could be as simple as using the pronoun \u201cthem\u201d instead:\nCats\u00a0were first domesticated 7,000 years ago, and the Ancient Egyptians worshiped them for their elegance and poise.\nIf you wanted something more exotic, however, you could say:\nCats\u00a0were first domesticated 7,000 years ago, and the Ancient Egyptians worshiped\u00a0these furry felines for their elegance and poise.\nThis second version has a very different feel to it, too, since "furry felines" is less formal. As such, you can see how word variation can affect your writing.\nThe Peril of Elegant Variation\nVarying terminology too much is known (sarcastically) as\u00a0\u201celegant variation.\u201d This means using variations of a term for no good reason. For instance:\nFire is an ancient part of human life. We may have first encountered a blaze when lightning struck dry vegetation. After that, it was only a matter of time until the human species could create its own conflagrations. And since then, combustion has been central to civilization.\nHere, we've gone out of our way to avoid repeating the word "fire". But this may feel forced, and excessive word variation can make your writing harder to follow or introduce ambiguity. So be careful!\n\nIn addition, many authors warn against varying\u00a0the word \u201csaid\u201d\u00a0too much in fiction. If you\u2019re introducing dialogue, \u201csaid\u201d is fine most of the time. You can use other terms to show how something was said (e.g., \u201cshouted\u201d or \u201cwhispered\u201d), but this should be done sparingly.\nBeware the Thesaurus!\nIf you\u2019re using a thesaurus or the\u00a0\u201cSynonyms\u201d function\u00a0in Microsoft Word to vary your words, be careful! These are brilliant resources if used correctly, but they can cause problems as well.\n\nIn this post, for example, we\u2019ve used the word \u201cword\u201d a lot. But this term has several meanings, so not all the alternatives in a thesaurus will work. You can see this if you right click \u201cword\u201d in a Microsoft Word document, as the synonyms listed will include \u201cchat\u201d and \u201cconversation.\u201d However, neither of these would fit if you were using \u201cword\u201d to refer to a unit of language.\n\n[caption id="attachment_4021" align="aligncenter" width="329"] We have no "chats" for how bad these suggestions are.[\/caption]\n\nConsequently, it\u2019s vital that you check the meanings of unfamiliar terms before using them. And once you\u2019ve written your document, don\u2019t forget to have it proofread to make sure it\u2019s error free.