a1 City University of New York
a2 Cornell University
Words should be chosen and used carefully so that they convey the meaning or meanings that you intend—and do not convey any unintended or double meanings. Writing should leave little ambiguity or uncertainty about what you are referring to—unless some purposeful ambiguity is desired. Sometimes words that are abstract or superficial may be chosen to suit the writer's purpose. For example, there is a long tradition of euphemistic writing. But such use of words should be well-considered and deliberate, not the result of carelessness or indifference.
Forrest D. Colburn is a professor in the department of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a visiting professor at the Latin American management school, Incae. He can be reached at Forrest.Colburn@lehman.cuny.edu.
Norman Uphoff is professor emeritus of government and international agriculture at Cornell University. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: Clarity, precision, and consistency, as noted in this article, are central to good writing. When preparing a final manuscript for publication, a style guide should be consulted. Different disciplines, as well as media and outlets, have different style guides, e.g., Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, The Council of Science Editors Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, Modern Language Association Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, and United States Government Printing Office Style Manual, that specify their rules of punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, and citation; be sure to find out what style guide should be used in preparing your final manuscript. For example, PS: Political Science and Politics generally follows Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, with some modifications. Also, publications and organizations have specific submission guidelines.
—R J-P H