The following guidelines clarify what types of words to avoid in academic writing, including in discussion board posts.
A colloquial word or phrase is one that is better suited for a familiar, face-to-face conversation than for scholarly documents. Many times, this is a common word or phrase that is being used in a nontraditional, informal way.
Like a colloquialism, slang is better suited for a face-to-face conversation. The difference between slang and a colloquialism is that the latter could still be used in a more formal instance (Example: “The garbage was dumped in the harbor.”) Slang, on the hand, has no original meaning outside of its slang usage.
Jargon confuses or muddles a word or expression, perhaps intentionally, with the purpose of swaying its reader towards a particular reading of the presented information.
An inappropriate adjective or adverb would be one that holds little or no quantifiable meaning.
Difficult words force your reader to have a dictionary nearby.
Remember: Your reader should have to do as little work as possible to understand your writing.
You’ll find that some words or phrases hold little meaning when you consider the potentially diverse backgrounds of your reading audience.
Metaphors are never precise; the strength of an academic document, meanwhile, is determined by its precision.
A cliché is a phrase so often used that it has lost all meaning.
Platitudes are clichés that also pretend to offer advice, lesson, or moral guidance.
A pejorative is a word or phrase that expresses the bias of the author.