How to Alienate Your Reader: Jargon, Buzzwords, Lingo, and Gobbledygook

  • Written By: TEC Staff
  • Published On: October 2007



This Is For All Us Writers Out There: Oh, and All Us Readers Too!

Do you ever feel like you need a jargon buster just to understand what some companies are saying about their software products?

I know I’ve needed one, and often still do.

I am a content writer and editor for TEC and the learning curve was pretty steep when I started. I mean what is functionality, scalability, dynamic lead time, run time, and then there are features and functions…enough to boggle the mind!

How many people really know what these words actually mean?

Not what they think these words might mean or what they sound like they mean in a certain context, but what they really and truly mean.

Well, it’s part of my job to know. And if I can’t explain it in plain English, I can’t use it.

And how many times have I read a white paper and realized that if all the buzzwords were removed it would be half the length (and comprehensible).

I’ve collected some great examples along the way.

Here’s one:



The purpose of customized, internal solutions has been to tackle both missing functionality in CAM and ERP, and the inadequacies of existing ones. The most glaring example of this is the ‘Stack-up/Lay-up and BOM Generator.’ While all ERP systems have some mechanism to generate the stack-up and BOM, they have proven to be cumbersome and lack flexibility and adequate automation, particularly with today’s layer counts and sequential lamination requirements.

And, what does this REALLY mean?

This example is talking about the lack of integration in customized printed circuit board (PCB) solutions.

When you boil it down, that’s really what this paragraph is all about. Sure, they throw in some examples, but the examples make it harder to understand. That’s really not the point of examples, now is it?

What’s the solution?

When writing (white papers, abstracts, case studies, webcasts, podcasts, articles, and so on) about tech concepts and products, DON’T assume your reader is going to understand any of your jargon.

If you’ve got to use jargon, explain it.

The point is to engage the reader not alienate them.You can lose a reader almost instantly when you start writing like the example paragraph above.

I mean would anyone find the above paragraph interesting?

Not likely.
 
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