8 February 2014

Words for Writing: Indeed

In the right circumstances, 'indeed' can change a text's pace because it indicates the forthcoming prose's format and content. This short post explores those circumstances and possibilities.

1. Pace

If, following expository or analytical words, the proceeding sentence begins with 'indeed', the reader's inner monologue is likely to slow because the word harbingers one of a few quite specific occurrences. A definition will help explain this. 'Indeed' means:
1. in fact; in reality; in truth; truly (used for emphasis, to confirm and amplify a previous statement, to indicate a concession or admission, or, interrogatively, to obtain confirmation)
2. (used as an expression of surprise, incredulity, irony, etc.): Indeed! I can scarcely believe it. (dictionary.com)
Therefore 'indeed' leads readers to expect one of those narrowly defined possibilities to happen in whatever words follow.

1.1 Textual Authority

Of course, to take full advantage of the reader's expectations, 'indeed' must be used correctly. An early correct usage will build trust between reader and writer. With trust, readers need not doubt the author's skill. If readers do not doubt the writer's ability--ie because it is self-evident--they may focus on considering the argument or content--which is the purpose of writing with care. That is, correct usage helps establish a writer's authority.

As an aside, this is why another's eyes are helpful during editing and proofreading: even if a writer is talented and knowledgeable, some homonyms, etc, and simple mistakes may lead a writer to use the wrong word in the wrong place. This, in turn, presents to readers a text that does not support its own authoritativeness.

A good way not to encourage that perception, is to ask a friend to read one's writing to search for these undermining mistakes. Another approach is to read work aloud, in a different font, size, and colour, and on paper and on screen. All these changes remove familiarity and thereby highlight mistakes.

The next section offers an example.

2. Indicate a modification

Writers may use 'indeed' to introduce a qualification or expansion because readers expect whatever follows it to modify the preceding text in a certain way.
When (…) groups [such as trade unions who aim to litigate to change the law to benefit workers] are involved, the usual arguments against prospective changes in the law through judicial decisions lose much of their force. Indeed, when the litigants have this sort of long term interest, a judicial proceeding may take on, with the assent of all involved, something of the nature of a legislative hearing. (Lon Fuller, Anatomy of the Law (Penguin 1971) p 147)

3. Conclusion

'Indeed', then, advises the reader to take a moment to comprehend the previous sentence or paragraph, ready to reconcile that information with whatever is written afterwards. This may be emphasis, qualification, support, or many other options within precise, limited, and predetermined boundaries.

Created: 8 February 2014. Version 1.0.

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