The Jargon Free Writing Paradox

I know most people will agree that it’s better to write articles that are jargon free of industry specific terminology, slang, lingo, buzzwords or ‘code’ but is it really right to engage your ideal target reader without using words that will make them feel that you are brethren?

Skilled professionals often use *jargon* for social power where you have to be an ‘insider’ to understand the terminology…and in business, it makes them look like they know something special… including the conscious or unconscious desire to make those outside of their industry to feel excluded from the meaning or intention of the words.

And thus the jargon-free paradox: If your articles are completely free of jargon, how will you be able to communicate your expertise to your ideal reader who would have most likely understood the jargon?

Heck, even in our little niche, the term “Article Marketing” is jargon for “article submission, distribution and qualified lead & traffic generation via article syndication”… but to an outsider, they may not know or understand the meaning of the Article Marketing term.

My article writing advice about jargon use: If you are writing your article to appeal to a very technical and specific ideal reader, go ahead and use the least amount of jargon that will accomplish a connection with the reader… but if you want to reach a mass audience, use non-jargon equivalents designed to address non-specialists within your industry.

What are your thoughts about when using jargon in articles is or is not appropriate/effective?


Dr.Q writes:

usually jargons do put a reader off track. Yes it is preferebly not to use them but if it is necesary the jargon in cuestion should be defined before starting its use.
specially in the field of computers, jargons can be critically confusing to begginers.
please keep jargons defined.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 10:19 AM


Carine Nadel writes:

I was taught in college that you never know who will read your works, so to write your articles with as much clarity and simplicity as possible-this way everyone understands the subject. However, there are some jargon words that seem to have become part of today’s speech-so why not use them?

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 10:24 AM


Ed Howes writes:

In my own reading I have found the explanations and definitions of jargon educational. For example: I had no clue what Web 2.0 was until I read an explanation of it at EzineArticles Blog. However, previous mentionings of it did not bother me as I knew I could do a search or go to Wikipedia and get a definition and understanding. Still, when common jargon is defined or explained in a text, I sense the author is providing me with valuable information. When the terms are not explained, sometimes the context gives a fair idea and I still gain from new information even if I do not know all the terms.

Certainly if it is an author’s intention to be exclusive to a particular niche and use so much jargon I don’t learn anything useful from the article, I have two options. I can decide to educate myself further to increase my understanding. I can also decide I don’t care enough about the subject to learn more. With all the choice there is on the web, one can hardly keep up with their primary interests and cannot concern their self much with the intention of an author. Those who want exclusivity to promote their expertise may find regular and devoted readers and potential customers of their products or services. Those who want to expand their marketing will write inclusively and insiders can gloss over explanations and definitions. Everything hinges on the author’s intention and either choice can be valid.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 10:31 AM


Paul writes:

Jargon is Ok if you provide links explaining the meaning or some sample in order to illustrate the reader about the term. The Savyy will read it fluently and every body is happy!!! Well, may be not every body….There are a lot of lazy writers….: ) .

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 10:36 AM


Mike Warren writes:

You are absolutely right. There’s lots of jargon used in management training circles – to the detriment of the industry. So it shows great depth of understanding if an author can remove it, and explain complex models in simple English.

The problem is; many authors don’t realise they are using jargon. so my advice is to let someone outside “the zone” read the article before it is published. This allows jargon to be swapped for more universally descriptive text.

Less is more.
Mike Warren
Management Training

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 10:37 AM


Rick Lannquist writes:

Sometime it is necessary to use “Jargon”, just be careful and make sure that your audience will understand the “buz” words.

Jargon is like hot and spicy food. A little goes a long way

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 11:13 AM


Debbie LaChusa writes:

Personally, I prefer the simple, straightforward approach and NOT using jargon. I’ve built my entire business (10stepmarketing) around the idea of simplifying a subject (marketing) that very often is full of jargon and can be quite intimidating for the average person. The feedback I get from my clients is they really appreciate the simplicity.

I believe the question is, do you want to make a connection with your readers and really help them, or are you just trying to impress them?

We all know people do business with those they know, like and trust. I believe you can accomplish this much quicker when you write in simple, straightforward language that your audience can easily understand. Or, as Ed said, if you do use jargon, at least define it for your readers so you are educating them.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 11:19 AM



Well, here is my take on it:

One of the best compliments I get from clients whether it be in phone or face to face sessions, speaking or writing, is that I do not talk/write
“like a therapist.”

And for that I am glad.

Or experiencing an inner state of cognitive satisfaction.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 12:07 PM


Barbara Bates writes:

Explaining to those who know little or nothing about your subject but are still interested inlearning wuld make one think if Jargon is used it should be explained. I hope soon to be setting up a website on making individual websites and downloads, audio and transcripts more accessible to those of us who use adaptive equipment to access the Internet. Even leaving this response I had to get sighted help to “read” your graphic. There are ways of allowing screen readers to “read” hidden passwords that cannot be read by the sighted or programmed interlopers. Sometimes a certain amount of jargon is necessary to explain information presented in an article. But the jargon should be used in such a way so that it’s explained by its context, or a definition should be provided.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 12:37 PM


Jonathan Lewis writes:

Your post makes a good point. Every expert in whatever field should know things that his clients, students or readers don’t – but that doesn’t mean that using his specific terminology or jargon is going to impress them. If a technical word or jargon is used, it should always be explained in simple terms, thereby showing that we actually know what we are talking about, not just using “buzzwords” glibly.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 12:45 PM



I came by and read this blog comment much earlier, had nothing to add that Chris hadn’t already said quite eloquently, so I left. :)

I am definitely not one of those anti-jargon copywriters. On the contrary, jargon can help you get “found” for your target niche. Jargon and keywords may as well be the same thing.

I agree with Dr. Q: if you’re going to use jargon, be courteous to your audience and define the term.

And I really couldn’t have said it better than Chris, who said:

“…is it really right to engage your ideal target reader without using words that will make them feel that you are brethren?”

Amen, amen!

I vote for the J.I.M. method: Jargon In Moderation.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 12:53 PM




In the EzineArticles Newsletter today I removed the word “Brethren” because I had this feeling it meant something different than what I intended.

The Princeton dictionary says it means, “(plural) the lay members of a male religious order.”

er, ok, …

I meant it (brethren) to say that one of the goals of writing an article is to develop RAPPORT with your reader… to make them feel like they are like you and you are like them.

I think it may be time to update what the word “brethren” mean to translate into: “humans we have or want a connection with.”

Reflecting, it sure is fun to send blog entries to our email newsletter audience every once in a while to get a flood of fresh perspectives that we can all learn from. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. :-)

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 1:11 PM


Valerie Robinson writes:

I agree with the limitedness of jargon when writing articles. Most readers encouter jargon in many written articles. Too much jargon turns a reader off or makes their interest wonder. Many will even comment “too much jargon!”. The idea about writing is to make the reader comfortable and interested in what it is you have to say! Not try to impress them with too much unnecessary jargon or rhetoric. Just my opinion.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 1:13 PM



Hey Chris,

Interestingly, the word “brethren” is what jumped out and “did it for me” with respect to your meaning.

You with your 19th century male-oriented jargon! ;)

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 1:30 PM


Ed Howes writes:

Yeah, let’s forget the brethren and get back to usuns and weuns. No more sexism! :-)

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 2:49 PM


Ed Howes writes:

Hey Barbara,

I am very interested in your project since I am legally blind . But I don’t know how to contact you. Did an author search on your name and got zip. My Email address is at the bottom of my web site. Click on my blog post name to go direct.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 3:03 PM


Lance Winslow writes:


Many times I have chosen to write two-articles; one with Industry Buzz-Words and one in Plain English, due to this very issues. Great Point.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 3:45 PM


Toni Star writes:

Thought this was a good article and I agree with the contents. In my opinion, jargon is good in business dealings only if it accentuates and highlights an important issue. And even then, it should be used sparingly and in good taste.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 4:04 PM



Personally I love jargon when it is jargon I can understand. There is a kind of beauty and efficiency encapsulated by jargon words.

However I have found that the most effective communicators are those who are experts in their field and thus know their jargon and can also speak in lay-man’s terms in a very practical and down to earth way.

I say do both…

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 4:52 PM



In case anyone missed it the first time, I really liked the use of the word brethren here. Being pro-jargon and all.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 7:10 PM



I like Lance’s suggestion to write 2 articles, one WITH jargon and one WITHOUT jargon… That’s an excellent idea. :-)

My gut feeling is that the JARGON-filled article would OUT-PULL the non-jargon-filled article when it comes to traffic attraction power.

Why? My theory is that a more qualified reader will already be using JARGON terminology to search for answers to whatever his or her problems are. If an article is completely jargon-free, then the author will not have provided any hooks in the article content to be snagged by a searcher looking for technical answers or solutions.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 8:21 PM



I like the point made by Christopher above. I think it is best to have the jargon and lay-man’s explanation in the same article.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 9:33 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Here is a thought from a past thought I have had. Many people do not know what a “buzz word” is. So they search the buzz word on Google. Now then if they search that Buzz word wouldn’t it be nice if they came to YOUR article? So, what I have done over time is make titles of articles such as;

Read This Article if You Want to Know what a UAV is?

What is NanoTech?

What is SmartDust?

What is RFID?

If you write articles like that you will find that you can write one article for every buzz word in your industry and attract people to your website or to the article. Also you do your reader a favor when you explain something and then put the “Buzz Word” in the sentence.

To help streamline efficiency in distribution many companies are now using Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID Tags).

This way your reader learns something while reading. Many times acronyms become “buzz words” too. By doing this you are educating the reader without making them feel stupid like you were the first time you ran across the new buzz-word yourself. Another fun thing to do is to; ‚¬“Create-a-Word‚¬ and I often do this in articles. Make a whole new word out of other words to illustrate a point. Sometimes and this has happened to me. I see the word used again by someone else in the industry and eventually who knows it may become adopted and you created new ‚¬“Jargon‚¬ yourself. Go for it! Have fun!! :-)

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 9:41 PM


Edward Weiss writes:

It all depends on the purpose of your article marketing. If articles are meant to draw people in to whatever is being offered, then they should be written for a general audience and benefit laden.

If an article’s purpose is to teach nuclear physics and have nothing to sell, then that’s another story.

Article marketing and academia just don’t mix.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 9:43 PM



Good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way. :-)

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 9:59 PM


Cory Haasnoot writes:

I think your right on the money Chris. If you want to bring new customers into the know you don’t want to leave them in the dark with a jargon filled article. You want to leave them with info that they can understand and therefore learn from you in the future.

Comment provided December 12, 2006 at 11:48 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Now Edward makes a really interesting and thought provoking statement indeed. I suppose if someone is selling us on an idea or concept, maybe it could mix, although that would be stretching it, wouldn’t it?

“Academia and Article Marketing just don’t mix”

Wow, now that is a very interesting sub-topic, I like it. Okay that gives me something to think about? Is there any exception to that rule? Or is that blanket statement pretty much spot on? Very cool subject.

Comment provided December 13, 2006 at 1:18 AM


Brian Cotsen writes:

It’s interesting. As someone from the UK I read jargon in two different ways.

1. As an industry shorthand
2. As a lazy way to write.

I am not much for being a ‘member of a club’ just for the sake of it and I often feel slightly negative to a lot of people patting themselves on the back and swapping stories that are full of jargon and acronyms…

However the net is a place where people scan for information rather than read in depth reports, and jargon can quickly put across an idea or a meaning.

Being sure of who you are likely to be read by should be the guiding factor when using jargon.

As a previous commenter said, don’t risk irritating 50% of the likely readers just to impress the other 50%.

Personally I would be happy with a lot less ‘Jargon’ and over hyped email/ white letters (sorry a bit of jargon slipped in there) and other forms of internet communication…. I often think that there are a lot of quite childish communicators out there who feel the need to write as if they are filling in speech bubbles in a comic.

Thanks for the article… gave me something to think about.

Comment provided December 13, 2006 at 3:23 AM


Phil Grisolia writes:

Just as with an acronym, the first use of any piece of jargon should be accompanied by a brief explanation. Example: In many of my artices, as well as in my courses and seminars, I use “Stuff” (with a cap “S”) as a substitute for the words “products(s) and/or service(s). However, I always provide that explanation with its first use.

Comment provided December 13, 2006 at 7:22 AM


Graham Kelly writes:

As a media trainer these past 20 years I absolutely abhor jargon where mass communication is involved. I dont think you even need it to establish a link with your audience – everyone appreciates plain speaking and its power can be quite stunning! I’ve even had participants in our media training courses say they have used plain speaking internally for business comms and blown away their audiences who aren’t used to such lack of jargon or business speak.
Here’s to getting rid of jargon!

Comment provided December 13, 2006 at 5:26 PM


Hermas Haynes writes:


I share your view about jargon use. If an article is written for a specialized group that is familiar with the trade vocabulary, then jargon helps the communication process.

If the message is directed to a general audience on a specialized subject, jargon should be substituted for language the layperson would understand.

Comment provided December 15, 2006 at 9:58 AM


Neill Neill writes:

I write articles on topics of a psychological nature. I have learned to keep jargon to a very low level because I write for a general audience.

The problem now is that some of my articles have been so jargon-free that there were no keywords to tag. i’ve had to reintroduce a bit of jargon just to be found.

That’s my dilemma with jargon. has anyone else found this?


Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 4:34 PM


Graham Kelly writes:

I’d say that puts you in step and everyone else out of step.

Comment provided December 18, 2006 at 8:55 PM


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