I’ve just been wrestling with copy that’s so thickly coated with toxic jargon that I’ve had to wear a haz-chem suit just to get near it.
I’ve been working through it slowly, battering sludgy phrasing into sleek, efficient copy that everyone can understand. And then I happened to Tweet about it.
Clive Andrews asked me how I go about de-jargoning my clients’ copy. After I explained that I just use a mixture of judicious deletions and sensible replacements, Clive asked how I remove jargon without offending my clients. After all, jargon is often industry-specific lingo that helps to exclude outsiders by mystifying simple concepts unite groups by giving them a shared vocabulary, and people get quite attached to their ‘special words’.
Persuading clients to ditch jargon
When I’m trying to encourage clients to accept my pruned and de-jargoned copy, I simply insist that clear copy sells, while jargon confuses. I never suggest that jargon is bad because I don’t like it.
Jargon is bad because it puts a thick blanket of stupid between your words and your reader. Using jargon is like hanging curtains over road signs.
My other trick for getting clients on the anti-jargon bandwagon is to get other people to do the arguing for me. So if I’m working with a few people in an organisation, I’ll suggest that jargon is probably hampering our goals and then ask the group for their thoughts.
This strategy is a gamble, because I’m just hoping that my colleagues will argue against the jargon. Luckily, they usually do.
An earlier blog post about jargon.
Thanks to Clive Andrews for his questions.