I have a graph that shows some statistic for the period 1930-2010.

I then have another graph (for the exact same statistic) which I introduce by saying: "Let us zoom in to the period 1960-90."

I have been told that "zoom in" is too colloquial. What is a better word or phrase?

  • I would say that beginning with "Let us..." is also on the colloquial side. – Canis Lupus Apr 1 '14 at 20:25
  • Interesting, I would not consider that choice of words to be too colloquial, but it definitely depends on your audience and the image you are trying to project. I think let us is also fine. Let us focus or Looking more closely at the period... would both be sufficiently formal, I would think. – Mike Apr 1 '14 at 22:51
  • I don't think 'Let us' is colloquial, it's perfectly standard English. I'd also like to ask what's wrong with 'zoom in'. What kind of ancient audience are you addressing? Anyone who has used a computer or a camera - ie I'm guessing all your audience - will be completely familiar with the term. In fact I can't think of a more 'correct' term to use in photography. – Mynamite Apr 3 '14 at 17:42
  • Let us... is certainly colloquial in that it imparts an informal, familiar, and conversational tone to the statement. "Colloquial" does not necessarily mean "non-standard". If you want to write a report that does not sound "colloquial", then I recommend avoiding formulations like "Let us..." I see that the OP didn't say this was a written statement for a report, and if it's not, that could change things. But if I were giving a presentation verbally, I would not hesitate using colloquial language, even if I were presenting to high government officials. – Canis Lupus Apr 3 '14 at 18:14
  • 1
    "embiggen" is a perfectly cromulent word. – Martin Smith Dec 5 '15 at 16:21

You also can use the term focus (as in focus on)

Pay particular attention to: the study will focus on a number of areas in Wales

Oxford Dictionaries Online


Drill down" is the term used to look at a more granular set of data in MS Excel's report reader. "Drill up" is used to look at a more summarized view of the data, in contrast.


Consider, investigate, have a closer look at, pay closer attention to.

However, if zoom in is too colloquial for the context, then certainly so is let us.

  • "Let's now have a closer look" seems to be just the right balance between of informal and proper English. I wonder why this answer didn't get more upvotes, especially considering the particular use-case described by OP. +5 if I could. – Emanuel Apr 3 '14 at 21:28

Let us zoom in to the period 1960-90.

sounds colloquial just by its introductory words "Let us".

If you want to remove the personal and familiar tone, you could simply become matter-of-fact about it. Since you were also asked to replace zoom in, try something like this as a way of introducing your other graph:

Figure X shows the period 1960-90 in greater detail.


What about "hone in"? It's a very similar construction which (to me, at least) sounds less colloquial.


I would simply use highlight. Let's now highlight the period between X and Y.


For a single word that fits, use SCRUTINIZE or NOTICE.

Let us scrutinize the period 1960-90.

Let us notice the period 1960-90.

Should "let us" be deemed to informal, "Now, notice the period 1960-90," would work.


You might want to consider any of these phrases:

"Let us concentrate our attention on the period 1960-1990."


"Let us home in on the period 1960-1990."


"Let us zero in on the period 1960-1990."


Let us give a more in-depth examination of the period 1960-1990.

  • The problem with this suggestion is that it is quite the opposite of what I'd like the reader to do. I don't want the reader to switch or turn his attention away from what we were just doing. I want him to focus harder on what we were just doing. – Kenny LJ Apr 4 '14 at 18:45

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