Avoid ‘due to’ where possible

March 14, 2014

Some terms—such as ‘due to’—are imprecise and can have multiple meanings.

Does ‘due to’ mean:

  • as a result of/resulting from
  • as a consequence of
  • because of
  • caused by
  • owing to
  • attributable to
  • based on
  • since
  • payable to
  • supposed to (as in ‘due to arrive at 10 am’)

or something else?

When you use ‘due to’ you are asking the reader to figure out what the cause/effect relationship is, instead of stating that relationship clearly and precisely. If the reader has to stop and substitute possible meanings for ‘due to’, they may not select the meaning you intended. As the author, it’s your responsibility to be clear as to what you mean, and, in most cases, that means using a more precise term than ‘due to’.

Quick tip

A quick tip is to substitute ‘due to’ with one of the options listed above and see what works best without adding, removing, or rearranging words. Here are some simple examples:

  • My sore back was due to sitting poorly. ⇒ My sore back was caused by sitting poorly. (this substitution works, as might ‘a result of’ and ‘a consequence of’)
  • I missed the bus due to the rain. ⇒ I missed the bus caused by the rain. (this substitution doesn’t work is it implies that the bus was caused by the rain)
  • I missed the bus due to the rain. ⇒ I missed the bus because of the rain. (this works)


See also:

[Links last checked March 2014; based on a Writing Tip I wrote for my work colleagues]


  1. In some work cultures, “per” is overused with similar hazards as “due to.” I wonder if the same substitution tests, or similar ones, apply?

  2. Good point, Jim. Yes ‘per’ is similarly overused. I try to substitute it where I can but so much depends on context. For example, I might substitute ‘per annum’ with ‘each year’, depending on the audience.


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