Pretty / Quite / Rather / Very

In technical writing, avoid the words “pretty,” “quite,” “rather,” and “very” as adjectives. Some writers mistakenly use these words to create emphasis or lend the appearance of exactitude, but this backfires—“the pebble is round” is clearer than “the pebble is quite round.” By definition, these words are nonspecific, and many professors are highly sensitive to their use. Other terms such as “virtually,” “highly,” “essentially,” or “relatively,” may work in their place, but be certain to use these terms literally and sparingly. “Rather” as a comparative word is, of course, valid in an “a rather than b” construction.