How to cut through the jargon
Our clients often ask us how they can express their ideas and maintain continuity across their written communications. We’ve come up with some tips to help you cut through the jargon using clear and concise writing.
Write actively instead of passively
A passive sentence focuses on a person or object that experiences an action instead of performing an action. For example:
‘Our Visa card terms and conditions have been amended.’
An active sentence clearly identifies an action and who is performing it, communicating your message in a more direct way. For example:
‘We’ve updated our Visa card terms and conditions.’
Use everyday language
Make your writing clear and concise by using simple, everyday language. For example:
‘We have undertaken a review of our card offering and have decided to cease charging a foreign exchange transaction fee of 2.5%.’
‘We’ve reviewed our card offering and decided to stop charging a foreign exchange transaction fee of 2.5%.’
Eliminate unnecessary words
Cut out unnecessary words that don’t add to the meaning of your sentence. For example:
‘We do hope that these changes will avoid some customers, who have historically had a card in each of our card currencies, having to hold quite so many cards in their wallets or purses.’
‘We’ve made these changes to simplify things for customers who have previously had more than one card in different currencies.’
Instruct, inform or inspire?
Decide whether the purpose of the document is to instruct, inform or inspire (these can overlap) and bear this in mind when you’re writing. For example, application forms instruct, letters inform and marketing brochures inspire.
Don’t be afraid to use contractions
A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words. By using contractions, you can make a document feel less formal and more accessible. For example:
‘If you would like a sterling debit card you would be required to open a sterling call account with us.’
‘If you’d like a sterling debit card, you’ll have to open a sterling call account.’
Pay attention to sentence length
Vary the length of your sentences to avoid monotonous writing. A short sentence gets to the point. A long sentence offers more details, probes an idea more thoroughly, or presents a useful description.