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Avoid buzzwords in favour of plain English

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buzzword (noun): A word or phrase ... that usually
sounds important or technical and is used primarily
to impress laypersons.

I'm a big believer in keeping writing simple. Long winded or pompous writing is harder for readers to understand. Also, it usually leaves them with a poor impression of the writer. So who benefits from it? No one.

Deloitte Consulting’s "Bullfighter" web site provides many examples of buzzword-laden nonsense taken from actual publications. Can you decipher any of these monstrosities?

A future-proof asset that seamlessly empowers your mission critical enterprise communications.

A value-added, leverageable, global knowledge repository.

Repurposeable, leading-edge thoughtware that delivers results driven value.

This assumes an even greater importance when we repurpose global value to jump-start scoping and visioning.

We excel at the dissemination of scalable, extensive, global initiatives and their socialisation throughout an entire enterprise.

Would you buy a used car from someone who wrote like that? :-)

Good writing isn't about demonstrating your vocabulary. It’s about communicating your message. The examples above don't do this. So instead of writing that's filled with buzzwords, aim for plain English instead.

But just what is plain English?

The term "plain English" isn't defined on a stone tablet anywhere, so it comes down to finding a definition that seems clear and comes from a credible source. Here are a few that I found. See what you think of them:

We define plain English as something that the intended audience can read, understand and act upon the first time they read it. Plain English takes into account design and layout as well as language.


A plain English document uses words economically and at a level the audience can understand. Its sentence structure is tight. Its tone is welcoming and direct. Its design is visually appealing. A plain English document is easy to read and looks like it's meant to be read.

http://www.sec.gov/pdf/handbook.pdf (p. 5)

Let's get rid of some myths first. It's not baby-language, and it's not language that is abrupt, rude or ugly. Nor is it language that puts grammatical perfection ahead of clarity.
It doesn't involve over-simplifying or 'dumbing down' the message so that it loses precision, force or effect.

It's any message, written with the reader in mind, that gets its meaning across clearly and concisely.


Following any of these links will provide you with lots of additional information about plain English.

You'll find many more helpful tips like these in Tim North's much applauded range of e-books. More information is available on his web site, and all books come with a money-back guarantee. http://www.BetterWritingSkills.com

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