Tag Archives: Officialese

Evenin’ all

Came across a new bit of prime officialese while attending to a glitch on my YouTube channel: “Met police use “tactical contact” to take down a moped rider who escaped by riding at speed through a park and down pavements.” ‘Tactical contact’ being shorthand for crashing into a fleeing rider, to knock them off their bike.

Good to see the police are maintaining their excellent record for tactical euphemism.


I was struck by the tone of the Nationwide’s recent letter to my daughter:

Something like 20 years ago we did a big campaign of work for Nationwide, stretching over a year or more. Part of it was a straightforward exercise in drafting their basic materials, from letters to leaflets to ads. But the other part was a conscious empowerment programme, aiming to equip Nationwide with a clear and distinct tone of voice, and help them put it to work.

Looks like it was a success! They can communicate. The messages come across clearly, and they sound like people, rather than adenoidal officials.

Not that there isn’t room for improvement.


…is no way to address your customers. Use her first name if you have the balls (and you should). If you can’t bring yourself to, then at least don’t bludgeon her with POINTLESS CAPITALS. And if you can’t or won’t make it human, then discard it altogether; it won’t be missed.

And why begin by offering ‘your replacement Personal Identification Number (PIN)’? Does anyone ever call it that? Why not

…your replacement PIN

If you really feel the need, you can spell out the acronym in the following chunk of body copy.

But on the whole, not bad! Certainly a major improvement on the kind of bloodless officialese that was the norm for such communications back in the day.