Shorthand: (“j”)

Avoid jargon.

Jargon, also known as the stuffy, abstract, colorless, impersonal, and wordy language that appears in much professional, pseudo-scientific, bureaucratic, and journalistic writing, is often intended to compensate for lack of creativity. Almost inevitably, it fails.

Writers of jargon overuse the passive voice and forms of the verb to be. They are fond of “noun-noun constructions,” such as food situation, long-term energy shortage problem, and precipitation conditions.  

Frequent use of jargon is no excuse for confusing your reader. Important-sounding phrases are no substitute for simple, clear, active words. The following are some words and phrases commonly used by writers of jargon. None of them is intrinsically objectionable, but they often substitute for thought and meaning. Consider their respective alternatives.

Instead of: try:
have a belief in believe
put an emphasis on emphasize
is indicative of indicates
in the event of if
impact v. affect, n. effect
utilize use
prior to before
transcend exceed or excel
condition circumstance or contingency
situation circumstance
status condition
-wise probably unnecessary
inherent often unnecessary
in view of the fact that because (6 - 1 = 5 words saved)
in connection with with
viewpoint perspective
of this nature probably unnecessary
in regard to regarding
character vague; use a thesaurus*
societal social
in many instances probably unnecessary
due to the fact that because

* Do not, however, become reliant upon a thesaurus. A thesaurus lists words, which are not always synonyms.  Your professor can tell when you use a word but really have no idea what it means.

Contact Information

Writing Center

Kirner-Johnson 152

Contact Information

Levitt Center

Kirner-Johnson 251
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4451 levitt@hamilton.edu
Back to Top