“Characterization (noun): Portrayal or description so as to distinguish; the creation and representation of characters in fiction; delineation; the use in journalism of descriptive or categorical words as modifiers, sometimes irrelevantly (physical value judgments) and sometimes prejudicially (subtly moralistic or pejorative words). Adjective: characterizable; verb: characterize.

‘Characterization, too, can border on opinion, and should be excluded from the news columns. A paragraph about the President’s conference contained this sentence: “The ambiguity of his replies sent some men away convinced that the major policy change was indeed in prospect, but the White House later took pains to explain that this was not the case.” Strike out the words “the ambiguity of” and your retain the same meaning without the editorial flavor.’ Theodore Bernstein, Watch Your Language”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

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