Want to be a better writer? Build your vocabulary!

Have you ever hear of the word “ubication?” What the heck does it mean?

If you followed The Word Blog regularly, you would know that it is a noun whose definition is: “relation to place; whereness.”

The Word BlogAs in: Jean has a terrible sense of ubication. She can get lost just going around the block.

OK, I admit it, you are probably never going to use this word in daily life (well, maybe if  you have the right tiles in Word with Friends), but a better vocabulary is something journalists should constantly be striving for and building upon. Knowing just the right word to use makes us better writers because it allows us to use more concise language in our writing. It also allows us to avoid embarrassing gaffes that can result in a writer being eaten alive by those ubiquitous online grammar nazis commenting on stories.

Heather, the author behind The Word Blog, regularly blogs about words and grammar. Her blog consists of several sections, including Vest-Pocket Vocabulary, in which she defines obscure words, and Lexical Vexations, in which she takes on words that sound similar but have different meanings, such as affect vs. effect.

One other area that you should be interested in as journalism students, whose papers get marked up in red pen by an old copy editor, is the section on Proofreaders’ Marks. Did you know there are universal marks used by copy editors and proofreaders? For example, a slash through a capitalized letter means it should be lowercase.

Another good way to help you build your vocabulary is by loading the Dictionary.com app on your smartphone (Android app  iPhone app) and turning on the Word of the Day notification.

Good journalist ≥ good writer ≥ wordsmith.

About Steve Pepple

Steve Pepple is a working journalist, web designer and photographer based in the Detroit-Ann Arbor area. He works as a assistant metro editor and writing coach at the Detroit Free Press. He previously worked as the print director at the ground-breaking digital media company AnnArbor.com, overseeing the productions of the twice-weekly newspaper. Prior to that he was the metro editor at the Ann Arbor News and previously served as the managing editor of The Herald-Palladium in Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Mich. Steve also operates a web design business at moonlightproductions.net and has a wedding and portrait photography business at stevepepple.com.
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