Getting rid of jargon

Tip of the DayIt can be easy to slip into using jargon when writing public legal education and information materials – especially when you are exposed to it through your daily work. However, jargon can make your information hard to understand for many readers.

When choosing between different words, use the word you think is more familiar to your readers. This means common, everyday words, preferably with no more than two syllables.

For example:

  • instead of “utilize”, write “use”
  • instead of “endeavour”, write “try”
  • instead of “terminate”, write “end”

Word substitution lists are a helpful tool both for choosing everyday words and eliminating wordy phrases, such as changing “at the present time” to “now”. Here’s one to check out:

Keep in mind that people who don’t read well may understand words when spoken but have difficulty with them in print.

See CLEO’s Better Legal Information Handbook for more information on using plain language.

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