© Ugur Akinci
I have a confession to make.
I have a bad habit.
Once in a while I emphasize an object with the qualifier “in question”.
For example: “Save the variable in question to the database.”
What I really mean, in terms of plain writing, is very simple: the pronoun “this”.
This situation occurs when in the preceding sentence I introduce the object and then in the next sentence I use the qualifier “in question” to emphasize and point to it.
The matter was brought to my attention by an eagle-eyed reviewer the other day.
After reading the technical document I was working on, she asked: “why this thing you’re talking about is ‘in question’?”, without a trace of sarcasm in her voice. “What kind of question this thing has raised so far?”
At that moment I realized that the phrase “in question” can be interpreted differently by different readers, especially by those coming from a different cultural background.
If you are writing for a global audience, make sure to eliminate “in question” from your toolbox.
I hope I can remember my own advice the next time I’m tempted to draw attention to an object by needlessly qualifying it with “in question.”
Plain Writing Online Video Course: https://www.udemy.com/plain-writing/