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I was having a conversation with a senior executive about launching a new initiative. He said he would like to get behind it, but I need to add a bit more texture to the whole proposal.

What does adding texture mean in this context?

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  • 1
    sounds mostly like meaningless corporate-speak to me
    – Esther
    May 5 at 18:36
  • 1
    If the original draft had three pages, time to add a fourth. Details have texture. May 5 at 19:22

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"Adding texture" means adding different types of detail to provide a more varied, and hence more complete, account.

Texture has a well-established meaning in literary criticism. From the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms:

A term used in some modern criticism (especially in New Criticism) to designate those ‘concrete’ properties of a literary work that cannot be subjected to paraphrase, as distinct from its paraphrasable ‘structure’ or abstract argument. The term is applied especially to the particular pattern of sounds used in a poem: its assonance, consonance, alliteration, euphony, and related effects. Often, though, the term also covers diction, imagery, metre, and rhyme.

A similar meaning is in Lexico (1.3):

The quality created by the combination of the different elements in a work of music or literature.

In non-literary texts the meaning is similar but perhaps less clearly articulated. For instance here is a report by respected opinion research organisation the Pew Institute (Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality, 2009):

We present a summary of these second-hand observations at the end of Section I in the belief that the two perspectives complement one another and add texture to our report.

And from an abstract for a paper at an American Public Health Association conference:

Alamance County has relied on quantitative data insufficient at providing a thorough picture of community health. These themes [expressed by focus groups] will allow community members’ words to add texture to a document that to date has only included statistics and figures.

Here "adding texture" refers to adding a variety of detail to the document. The sense is that a mix of statistics, qualitative data, multiple perspectives, anecdote, and maybe other elements together generates a document that isn't homogenous but has a mix of hard and soft, rough and smooth, dryly factual and human, maybe even boring and interesting.

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  • This makes perfect sense. Thanks for the hard work in looking up the references.
    – Ahron
    May 6 at 10:57

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