It is possible to communicate without words. In speaking we use gestures and facial expressions as well as words. In writing numbers enable us to be precise; and photographs, drawings and diagrams make possible the communication of information or ideas clearly, concisely, forcefully and quickly - either without words (as on some road traffic signs) or with fewer words than would otherwise be needed (see Figure 7.1). Text tables and illustrations also help to break up pages of writing, provide variety for the reader - and by capturing the reader’s attention they help the writer to emphasise important points.
The immediate visual impact and the lasting appeal of an effective illustration accounts for the attention paid in business to developing brand names and to the design of logos, as visual symbols to promote the public image of organisations - in letterheads, on packaging and vehicles, and at points of sale.
A politician may say that a fund will be established ‘of substantial size and adequate coverage over a considerable period’. Vague words are used to express hopes when it is not possible to be precise. Consider the meaning you wish to convey before using the word very with an adverb (very quickly) or with an adjective (very large), and before using adverbs (for example, slowly) or adjectives (for example, small, appreciable, large and heavy) or modifying and intensifying words (for example, comparatively, exceptionally, extremely, fairly, quite, rather, really, relatively, and unduly). Such meaningless modifiers do not help your readers, and are likely to annoy them:
Whenever anyone says I can do something soon I’ll say to them yes, I know all about that … but when, when, when?
Alan Sillitoe, Key to the Door (1961)