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2 bowls of rice to show short verb + tion = puffed-up noun

Quick tip: Shun the TIONs!

2.5 minute read. 3.5 minute listen. 

I see them all across the nation, to my total consternation: puffed-up words that end in TION.

Too many people play this game of word puffery.

You just add TION to any verb, and “poof!” it turns into a noun. 

But in my book, that’s going in the wrong direction.

I believe any TION tends to move us away from concrete details into the wispy clouds of abstraction.

That’s for sneaky bureaucrats with something to hide.

Or salespeople who want to sound important without actually saying anything.

Here are three excellent reasons why writers should shun the TIONs:

  • They waste words
  • They encourage passive voice
  • They bore audiences

You know how we always hear that telling a story sparks engagement?

I believe using a bunch of TIONs is the exact opposite of telling a story.

Where a story is concrete, direct, and specific, a report packed with TIONs is abstract, indirect, and vague.

Is that really how you want your white paper to sound?

While we’re at it, let’s throw out all the other variations like ATION and IZATION and the UK version spelled ISATION.

sneaky speaker using lots of TIONs

Sure, sometimes you can’t avoid using a TION word like “administration” or “regulation.”

But when you write, try to keep them to a minimum.

And when you revise, see if you can get rid of any that slipped in.

Some of my least favorite TIONs

The following table shows 25 of the TIONs I dislike the most, along with how to restate them using shorter, simpler verbs.

Do you have some more of your own?


Allot, assign, distribute
ApprobationApprove, back, support
ApproximationGuess, estimate, reckon
CollaborationPartner, team up, work with
CompensationPay, reimburse, reward
DigitalizationConvert, computerize, scan
DuplicationCopy, match
DeletionClear, discard, remove
EradicationReduce, remove, wipe out
Evaluationassess, measure, review
FabricationBuild, construct, make
HybridizationBlend, combine, mix
ImplementationCarry out, deploy, make happen
IntegrationConnect, install, join
ItemizationCount, detail, list
LocalizationAdapt, convert, translate
MonetizationEarn, make money, profit
OptimizationEnhance, improve, streamline
ParticipationHelp, join, take part
PersonalizationAdapt, customize, tailor
RepresentationDepict, show, symbolize
SecuritizationConvert, finance, secure
Utilization Employ, use
VisualizationDepict, imagine, show
VocalizationSay, sing, speak

ChatGPT logoP.S. I used ChatGPT to help develop this list of TIONs and DALL-E to generate the rice bowls in the graphic (they needed a lot of touchups).

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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