Readable Writing Rule #7: Skip The Jargon

Readable Writing Rule #7

Experts know all the buzz words and abbreviations, but most readers won’t.

For example, foreign policy experts know “MAD” stands for the Mutual Assured Destruction,” which was long our nation’s for preventing nuclear war.

Psychiatrists and psychologists know that “mental/physical” describes mental distress resulting from a physical injury.

Physicians know that “blue bloaters” and “pink puffers” describe people in specific types of respiratory distress, but the average reader would probably guess that they are some kind of fish.

It’s blah-blah to my ears

These buzz words, abbreviations and other verbal concoctions are known as jargon.

Jargon helps people communicate – if everybody understands it. But since jargon is usually only understood by those in the field, skip it when writing for anyone else. Stick with plain old English. Using just a dash jargon and immediately defining it can spice up your writing, but a lot of jargon, or any unexplained jargon at all, will make your writing unintelligible.

When penning a poem to your loved one, you could say:

“My darling, I have entered into a cognitive-affective state characterized by intrusive and obsessive fantasizing concerning reciprocity of my amorant feelings by the object of my amorance.”(1)

Yes, you could say that, but it’s probably better to simply say, “I love you.”

You’ll get a much better response.

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Notes: 1) The “My darling…” sentence was quoted from the book The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. William Morrow & Co., 1990, p. 19.

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