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As a technical writer you’ve heard this piece of sage writing advice a thousand times: you should stay away from jargon and write as you speak. It’s basic. Strunk & White said so, didn’t they? It’s true.
But is this rule true ALL the time, unconditionally? No, I’m afraid it is not. Life has its exceptions. And so does this “rule.”
There are actually times when you, as a technical writer, BETTER use jargon if you want to be understood and keep your job. Otherwise you’ll be stamped as an “amateur” and not taken seriously.
Take the term “deconflicting”, for example.
If the context is scheduling your day and increasing your office productivity, “deconflicting” is a piece of painful jargon that you should avoid.
Instead of saying “We have to deconflict our priorities to finish our office assignments on time” it’d be a hundred times more preferable to say: “We have to assign different priorities to our conflicting action-items to finish our office assignments on time.”
But imagine you are writing a manual for air traffic controllers… a totally different context that requires a different voice and a different style of address.
For air traffic controllers “deconflicting” is a very real and important concept and ALL controllers refer to that process as “deconflicting” and not as anything else.
That’s their common language, standard and insider lingo.
If instead of “deconflicting” you say “making sure the airplanes have distinct flight paths so that they don’t crash into one another” in order not use “jargon,” they’ll only laugh at you! You’ll lose them right on the spot, or on Page 1.
In such specific technical contexts, jargon is indispensable to establish your credentials right away as an “insider” and help you communicate your ideas much more rapidly, with authority. That would help not only you as a professional technical writer but your audience as well since they can concentrate on the content of your copy rather than get distracted by the everyday language you’re using.