Why you should avoid jargon in business writing

Do you ever get frustrated with jargon filled writing?

Here’s what Barry Humphries had to say about jargon in The Spectator back in 2012.

“Soap is now a cleansing bar, and if you ring your bank and can stand to listen to the endless menus, you might get put onto a customer service specialist. A nurse is a wellness technician, and an in-flight service director used to be a hostie…Teams are everywhere, as is ‘passion’. Car companies manufacture automobiles ‘with passion’, and there is barely an advertisement for anything, from muesli to mortuaries, in which is popular emotion is not debased.”


Indeed, using words outside their traditional meaning, personalising objects, as well as using jargon has become cliché in many circles.


Of course, jargon is useful within business writing if it simplifies and speeds communications. It’s easier if everyone in your office understands that SVPMBD refers to your company’s Senior Vice President Marketing and Business Development. Or is it?


The trouble is that using such phrases makes your spoken and written sentences longer. It’s ironic that in this day of Twitter, texts and Facebook, where the short and sharp rule, we are faced with often incomprehensible phrases and unnecessary words in other forms of written communication.


The truth is that no one wants to spend longer reading business documents than they have to. And no one wants to spend longer writing business documents than they have to. So, if you keep it simple by cutting out the waffle, you’ll spend less time doing both.


Why use ‘methodology’ when ‘approach’ will do? Why say ‘keep you appraised’ when ‘keep you up to date’ is clearer? Why say ‘passion’ when ‘specialised’ is more precise.


Don’t say ‘solutions’ unless you can explain what these are. And don’t say ‘innovative’ unless you can prove it.


Don’t pretend you are unique, unless your business is truly the only one of its kind in the world. (Plus, people don’t care if you are unique – there’s no benefit to them. They are only interested in what they will gain by working with you.)


Use short sentences. That way your reader will quickly get your point.


Use simple words and verbs. Be careful of the verb ‘to be’ which we often use with a noun or adjective to describe an action. For example, instead of ‘this is not applicable’, say ‘this does not apply’. Instead of ‘we are going to go on holiday next week’, say ‘we are going on holiday next week’.

And if you need someone to review if your document has jargon that may be off putting to your readers, do contact Proof Communications.

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or head to the contact page.

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