Are Your Letters Filled With Old-Fashioned Phrases?

By Gary Blake | September 22, 2017

Old-fashioned words and phrases clutter up claims letters, detract from a professional image and do not belong in your templates or free-form missives.

I’ll list a few of these phrases and comment on each. You’re invited to disagree and to express your own thoughts in the “Comments” section below this article:

“Amongst”– sounds like Medieval English.

“As per our discussion” – Do you find yourself using “per” in your everyday speech?

“Attached herewith” – Legalistic and stodgy. How about just “Attached is…”

“By virtue of” – “Because of” does the trick.

“cc” – Stands for “carbon copy” (not “courtesy copy”), which hasn’t been around for a generation. You could write “copy:”

“Dear Sir or Madam:” – This sounds like you can’t make up your mind! Also, I doubt women want to be referred to as “Madam.”

“Deem it advisable” – Use “suggest,” since “deem” and “advisable” lard on extra formality.

“Enclosed please find” – Wait! Let me get my magnifying glass! “Find” may have had some meaning in the days of the Pony Express when items may have been bundled together, but today there’s no need to instruct someone to “find” something in your page. How about “Enclosed is…” or “I’ve enclosed.” In a future column, I’ll go through my feelings about the use of “I” in claims writing.

“Esteemed colleague” – a bit much.

“Feel free to call me”– This phrase is very tempting. It sure beats its older brother, the cliché “do not hesitate to call me.” However, “feel free to call me” is also a cliché and you should avoid clichés or your reader may think that you are incapable of original phrasing or thinking.

“Furnish” – When claims professionals use “furnish,” they are asking the reader to provide something that may not come directly from the reader. They may say, “Please furnish these documents.” or “Please provide these documents.” But, when you are asking the reader for something, you can just say “Please send….” I remind people attending my claims writing webinars that they should probably restrict the use of “furnish” to comments about the use of furniture!

“I am in receipt of” – is unnecessarily passive in construction. I’d write, “I’ve received…” or, if you really have a block against using “I,” use “Thank you for sending….” (Obviously the assumption is that you are getting something you appreciate receiving!).

Now, there are other old-fashioned phrases that space prevents me from adding. However, I want all of my readers to have complete information. So, I will send my two-color 8 1/2″ X 11″ flyer, ELIMINATING OLD-FASHIONED PHRASES, to any of you who request one. Just send your name, title, company and address to me at and I will send you a poster – FREE.

image of Gary Blake

About Gary Blake

Gary Blake is director of The Communication Workshop, offering claims writing webinars and seminars to claims professionals throughout the US, Bermuda, Canada, and the UK. Blake is the author of The Elements of Business Writing (Pearson Education), used at more than 100 insurance companies. He has written about claims writing for a number of industry publications. His e-mail is More from Gary Blake

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