L is for Layman’s Terms: Writing in a Language Your Audience Understands

Illustration by Ramiro Roman.
Illustration by Ramiro Roman.

Layman’s Terms. Writing (or speaking) that is “phrased simply, without jargon.”

We already know that getting to the point is important. But getting to the point in a way that your readers understand is even more important.

In the words of George Orwell

Never use a long word where a short word will do

and

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Don’t break out every $10 word you know to impress your readers. You aren’t impressing anyone. At best, you’ll come off as a snob and, at worst, your readers will resent you for making them feel stupid.

As a child, when you came across a word that you didn’t understand, what did you do? You skipped over it, right?

We’re all children at heart.

Adult readers skip over large words too.

Being authentic is much more important than being impressive. 

Avoid jargon.

Just because you understand something doesn’t mean everyone does. As Orwell stated, if there’s a more well-known way to say something–write it that way.

Nobody gossips with a company. Nobody connects with a robot. Nobody bonds with a corporation.

Write the way you speak.

Better yet?

Write the way your readers speak.

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