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Using Words: One Word, One Meaning

Writing Words for Communicating

We at Saturn have a few rules about words. One is that we describe an item or idea with a single word or term. We don’t use two terms for describing something or one term for describing two or more things. If there are two common terms to describe one thing, we choose one of them, recognize the other, and then continue to use the chosen term.

Our high school English teachers taught us to use different words with the same meaning to make our writing more interesting. If your job is communicating, variation of words is the wrong approach because it confuses people.

Don’t Confuse Words

I read some instructions the other day for charging an air conditioner. The author alternated between suction service valve and low-side service valve for the same item. Every other time he referred to this one valve he used the alternate term. This would have confused me if I hadn’t known the two names were the same valve.

 

If you were taught to use different terms for the same thing, try to break the habit. Almost nothing you can do in writing causes more confusion. To demonstrate how bad this term problem can be, here are four terms for the service valve on the suction side of the compressor.

  • Suction service valve
  • Vapor line service valve
  • Low-side service valve
  • Low pressure service valve

As you can see, using all of the terms is very confusing for someone unfamiliar with the proper terminology.  By choosing one term to describe one item, you clear up any confusion and make your communications much more effective.

 

When you are faced with an item that is known by multiple names, pick one and use it over and over. Avoid assigning pronouns like it or this.  Just repeat the term. You’re not writing the great American novel!

 

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