A Quick Tip to Make Readers Feel Close
to Your Work

Small words can make a big difference.  There are many pairs of words that you might use interchangeably, but their differences could markedly change how well your readers connect with what you write.

Let’s look at an example. Which sentence is the better choice to follow the sentence below?

We are part of a cross-sector collaboration working to bring healthier food into public schools.

  1. To further that effort, we will contract with farmers to supply local produce to schools.
  2. To further this effort, we will contract with farmers to supply local produce to schools.  

This and that are words that people often use interchangeably, without thinking about them, but there is an important difference between the two which can completely change how the reader connects to whatever you are writing about. That creates a sense of distance; the feeling it engenders could be expressed as, “That is going on way over there and has little or no relation to me.” This creates a sense of nearness, so the feeling it brings is more like, ”This is happening right in front of me, so I’d better pay attention.” If you chose sentence B above, you can see the importance of making the readers feel close to the work  that you do.

Sometimes you may want to make the reader feel distanced from something, like a method you don’t think is as worthwhile as the one you are using, or a practice that is harmful to the people with whom you work. It will then aid your cause to use that or those instead of this or these. By deciding strategically which words to use, you can set the tone of your entire piece and choose what readers will relate to and what they will feel distanced from.


  • Insightful top, Erica. Yes, the choice of word matters in terms of sense of place.

    September 13, 2017
  • I agree. Nice reminder. Thanks.

    April 03, 2018

Leave a comment