The Pippin A-Z of Copywriting: Jargon

in Top copywriting tips

Firstly, a quick definition of jargon: it’s the words / phrases / abbreviations / acronyms we all use when we’re talking about our work. I’d extend it to include words and phrases designed to make the simple seem more complicated and fancy than it is (think words like leverage, learnings and low hanging fruit).

Does jargon have a place in copywriting?

As with all things, it depends on the audience.

If you’re writing to fellow staff members in your company update, it’s fine to use the acronym for a particular process – you’ll all understand it. On the other hand, if you’re writing a guide for new starters, you’ll need to explain it.

If you’re writing a piece for an industry journal you want to avoid the in-house acronym but using the industry-wide shorthand for something is fine – readers will understand. On the other hand, if you’re writing a piece for people thinking about entering the industry, you’ll want to avoid it.

If you’re writing for the general public, you’ll need to avoid – or explain – all the jargon you’d usually use.

I think it also depends on the setting. Is your use of jargon or overly formal language getting in the way of getting your message across?

For example, in your company’s energy efficiency action plan you might say you ‘encourage staff to undertake small energy efficiency measures in order to minimise the company’s energy usage and environmental footprint.’ But the notice on the kitchen might say ‘Get your cup of tea faster and save the planet at the same time – only boil as much water as you need!’

The takeaway message: as always, take a moment to think about your readers.

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