Unprofessional Words to Avoid in Writing

Words to Avoid in Professional Writing

Professional Writers Avoid Certain Words
Peter Dazeley/Photographers Choice/Getty Images

You know that swear words and texting abbreviations (LOL) should not appear in your school reports, of course. But there are other types of unprofessional words that can sabotage your work when writing a research paper or resume. Many should be avoided in professional and technical writing.

Yet we can get so comfortable with some words that we don't realize that they are offensive or unpleasant to readers.

Abbreviations should not be used in professional or academic papers, for example. These sound too lazy or slouchy for serious work, so they can affect your grade in a bad way. This is a short list of the abbreviations you should avoid. 

  • are not instead of aren't
  • cannot instead of can't 
  • could not instead of couldn't 
  • did not instead of didn't 
  • does not instead of doesn't
  • do not instead of don't 
  • had not instead of hadn't
  • has not instead of hasn't
  • have not instead of haven't
  • can not instead of can't 
  • could not instead of couldn't
  • do not instead of don't 
  • does not instead of doesn't
  • he does instead of he'd
  • he would instead of he'd
  • he is instead of he's
  • he will instead of he'll
  • I would instead of I'd
  • I will instead of I'll

Other words we use can seem unprofessional for many reasons. Some are childish, some are slang, and some just make us cringe for unknown reasons. Consider this list of cringe-worthy words the next time you polish a draft of a report or an essay.

Note: Writing a short story or personal experience essay with quotes? Many of these words are much more acceptable in creative writing.

  • airhead
  • ain't
  • amped
  • anyhow
  • anyways
  • armpit
  • awesome
  • babe
  • bag
  • barf
  • bash
  • bling
  • bonkers
  • booze
  • bummed
  • bummer
  • buzz (as in good feeling)
  • call (as in judgment)
  • cheap
  • cheesy
  • chow
  • con
  • cool
  • cop
  • corny
  • crack open
  • crabby
  • cram
  • crap
  • crappy
  • croak
  • crush (as a noun)
  • cushy
  • dead (use deceased)
  • dinky
  • dirty
  • ditch (as a verb)
  • dope
  • dork
  • dump
  • earful
  • eye candy
  • fart
  • flip out
  • freebie
  • fuzzy
  • goof
  • gross (as in unpleasant)
  • grungy
  • guts
  • hairy
  • hang out
  • hot (as in attractive)
  • hurl (as in throw up)
  • hyper
  • i.d.
  • jerk (as a noun)
  • knockout
  • kook
  • laid back
  • loser
  • max
  • maxed out
  • mega
  • nark
  • neat (as in likable)
  • nuke
  • nuts
  • party (as a verb)
  • piece of cake
  • poo
  • poop
  • poot
  • pro
  • psycho
  • puke
  • punk
  • rag
  • screw up
  • smash
  • snooze
  • snow job
  • stink
  • stinky
  • sucker
  • sweaty
  • throw up
  • veg
  • vibe
  • whiz
  • yo
  • zap

See also: