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The complete sentence goes:

"This is not a perfunctory guideline. (...) This is something you need to pay close attention to while you code."

Something in "to pay close attention to" is bugging me. Any suggestions on how I could improve it? Or does it sound ok as it is?

Edit: there have been some suggestions to use "focus on", which should work in most cases; however, in this particular case, I'm not saying that it should be the center of one's attention, rather something very important that needs to be checked constantly.

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  • You might consider consulting a thesaurus. That's what they are for. There are many ways to say this, including "focus on", "investigate", and others given as answers here. Your best bet is to examine a thesaurus, keeping your particular context in mind.
    – Drew
    Mar 9 '14 at 3:16
  • This is not a perfunctory guideline. This is a requirement.
    – Jim
    Mar 9 '14 at 5:50
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Be mindful of would probably work well in that case.

Otherwise, it does sound ok to say pay close attention.

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Sadly becoming antiquated, but the verb attend is both adequate and more graceful than the compound pay attention.

E.g., in your example I prefer, "Attend closely to this while you code."

Other alternatives that omit pay:

  • "Code only with close attention to this."
  • "Code attentive to this."
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  • I immediately thought of this. Style-guides usually promote the idea that less is more, and yet this one somehow slips through.
    – Anonym
    Mar 9 '14 at 16:28
  • Code attentive...? Doesn't this call for an adverb? Wouldn't it be code attentively...? No, that doesn't work. How about Be attentive to this while coding.? Jul 4 '15 at 9:56
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Since this guideline is to be observed (followed, abided by, complied with, adhered to), and you are expecting this to be done with consistency (in all cases, regularly, continuously, without exception) you might consider something like this:

This is not a guideline. This is something you need to consistently observe.

I imagine this is closer to what you are trying to say. You see here that the meaning of observe is not just to passively watch, but to fulfill or comply with (source)

This will help you reformulate what started as a guideline into something closer to a rule and it emphatically shows your expectation that it is a rule that must be followed.

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I think take heed works but maybe not all coders would get it. I would use examine.

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The first word appeared in my mind was "focus."

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In your edit you stated that it needs to be checked constantly, so I suggest "monitor": "This is something you need to monitor while you code." If it referred to coding carefully, then I suggest, "always code this very carefully."

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Simply: "This is something you need to observe while you code."

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"This is something you need to follow while coding."

A more polite way is to say "This is a best practice which we {follow/use/apply/observe/implement}when coding here at [company].

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to take into account:

to consider or remember something when judging a situation:

  • I hope my teacher will take into account the fact that I was ill just before the exams when she marks my paper.
  • A good architect takes into account the building's surroundings.

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus)

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