Stop the Jargon: Writing in a Way That Everyone Can Understand

Jarratt Isted Jarratt Isted on

Content marketing is getting more and more popular every year for companies who want generate leads without spending. Trouble is, many forget that their readers may not fully understand the words they use.

With an aging population, it's more important now than ever that your target audience and anyone else who's reading your content can understand what you've typed.

Who's reading your blog?

Your readers shouldn't need to be an expert to understand the words you've chosen.

Write for everyone

You gonna Snapchat a selfie?

While you may understand what that meant, your grandma won't. Jargon can make or break your article. Don't baffle your readers, otherwise they won't come back.

If the reader can't understand a word you said in your first sentence, they won't carry on reading. You need to use language anyone could understand.

John Rampton, an entrepreneur and investor recently wrote about the problem of jargon in the world of startups.

"It's not just annoying to the people who have been around the block a few times like venture capitalists and established CEOs, but also to the new hires who are dipping their toes in the startup culture for the first time" says John. Jargon is "designed to alienate and confuse".

It's not just the startup world that has a problem with the use of jargon. The content marketing industry does too.

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When I was a beginner in the world of copywriting and blogging, I was daunted by the use of acronyms like 'BOFU' (bottom of the funnel) and 'SERP' (search engine results page).

There is no need for content marketers to use words like this in their content. I shouldn't need a whole glossary to start reading content.

If your grandma can't understand what you've put on the page, chances are most of the internet won't either. Not everyone is an expert in your field—that's why they're reading.

Finding the jargon

Finding the jargon isn't as easy if you live and breathe the industry that you write about. It's quite easy to slip in something confusing for your readers. But there's something you can do to help yourself.

It's time to do some emailing.

Take a look in your contact book (or Facebook) and find someone you know that has no knowledge of the industry you're writing about. You're going to target them and ask them for their opinion.

Here's an email template you should use:

Hey [NAME],

[A personal paragraph].

I'm currently working on a piece of content called '[HEADLINE]' and I'd love your advice on it.

I want everyone to be able to understand it, and I'm worried about the use of jargon and terminology. It would fantastic if you could have a quick read through and make sure it's readable.

Is it okay if I send over a link for you to have a read? Don't worry if not, I know you're super busy.

Thanks, [NAME]

Ask more than one person, because chances are a few people won't have the time or won't reply. Hopefully they will reply and point out anything they find hard to understand.

Write what you speak

If you're in the content marketing industry chances are you don't ever say words like BOFU, because it sounds ridiculous. You're much more likely to say bottom of the funnel.

If you're still struggling to target your jargon, find a quiet place and read your article aloud.

By learning to use simple, everyday language instead, your communication will be more effective and more thoughtful towards your audience.

Duncan Business Networking International, Business Networking International

By reading your articles out loud before you publish them, you may stumble upon a few words that surprise you. I find this technique useful before I publish my articles.

Recap

Write for everyone because you don't know who may end up on your blog. Complete novices should be able to learn a thing or two as well.

Target the jargon by emailing people who don't know your industry. Ask them to read it and report back with any sentences or words they didn't understand.

Read out your articles before you publish them. Don't write words or acronyms you wouldn't say to your grandma.

By learning to use simple, everyday language instead, your communication will be more effective and more thoughtful towards your audience.

Jarratt Isted
Toronto, Canada
Jarratt is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Contentacle. He loves design, UX and penguins.