Avoiding Wordiness: Writing Skills Success Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011


Jargon is the technical, wordy language used by those associated with a trade or profession. Often, it is full of passive voice, acronyms, technical terms, and abstract words. Writers use jargon to sound educated, sophisticated, or knowledgeable. Actually, jargon muddies and even distorts the message. Compare the following two paragraphs.

      Alex demonstrates a tendency to engage inappropriately in verbal social interaction during class time. His grades are deficient because he suffers from an unwillingness to complete supplementary assignments between class periods.
      Alex talks in class when he isn't supposed to.
      He has low grades because he doesn't do his homework.

The first paragraph leaves the impression that Alex is a sociopath with a serious problem. The second portrays him as a student who needs to talk less and work more. When you write, strive for clear, plain language that communicates your message accurately. Clear communication leaves a better impression by far than pretentious, abstract, jargon-filled words.


Listen to public officials as they deliver prepared speeches. Do they speak clearly and plainly, or are they trying to sound "official"? A truly competent, intelligent speaker or writer doesn't need a mask of pretentious, abstract, sophisticated-sounding language.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Avoiding Wordiness: Writing Skills Success Practice Exercises.

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