Best articles for the power of words

What are the best ways to use words with power? One way is to know what they are, and how to use them.

There are great articles out there on the power of writing. I’ve written some myself on the power of words and there is much to learn.

Some words are magical and powerful. Via Mark H Evans

Persuasive words

This article by social media app (now there’s a phrase made of terms that didn’t exist a few years ago) Bufferapp rounds up the several articles on the most persuasive words. It also has a discussion on whether all these findings apply in all countries.

It cites an old UCL study and books on powers of persuasion and does a nice job of summing up the thinking around powerful words.

Powerful words – the top five…

This is a little bit of a cheat as it uses an article cited in the Bufferapp article but has some real insight into copywriting and word power.

Gregory Ā Ciotti, the author and a copywriter, lists the top five most powerful words and, more importantly, explains why they are so.

His are:

  1. You
  2. Free
  3. Because
  4. Instantly
  5. New

Now this is similar to what David Ogilvy details in his book on advertising, but it’s worth reading the article due to the reasoning.

…or just one word

According to Jonathan Goodman at Ā Viralnomics (really? That sounds like a name our children will look back on and shake their heads) there is only one powerful word – ‘because’.

In his article it’s ‘because’ because (ahem) people like to know reasons why.

In the army, officers are given books to plan their operations – one of the first things they have to do is sum up the mission purpose in one sentence. Part of that sentence must always include ‘in order to…’ – army speak (because its an organisation that calls a long march a ‘tactical advance to battle’) for ‘because’.

Liars and the lying words they use

If you want to know a bit more about the psychology of words, and you don’t mind a bit of journal reading, then this study from the University of Texas on words used in deception is a good read.

Wether you want to watch out for liars, or create a decent liar as a character, this study by Matthew Newman and James Pennebaker – Pennebaker is behind the LIWC program I use for word analysis – this is essential reading.

Social media word use

Seeing as social media is becoming more important, it’s good to look at whether word use tells us anything.

According to Teresa Correa et al at the University of Texas (again), there are an awful lot of narcissists on social media. Shocking, I know, but what I like about this is the detailed and methodical way they classified people asĀ narcissists, basing it on measurable factors rather than pure opinion.

So there you have it, five sites worth checking out if you want to find out more about words, whether it is for personal, business and writing use.

By Jonathan Richardson

Jonathan Richardson is a writer and the editor of Considered Words.

He's worked as a journalist, writer and analyst for organisations including the BBC and Which? He's also written for the stage in Cambridge, radio and sketches at the Edinburgh festival.

He's now a freelance writer and data analyst.

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