OK. It’s confession time. How many of you are guilty of using jargon recently? You probably feel that your colleagues in other departments are the worst culprits, but – when it comes to jargon – we’ve all committed some pretty bad word crimes, and sometimes without knowing it. Lip service is given to plain English, and the importance of writing clearly. But inside any organisation or business jargon has now become so pervasive it’s everywhere. And it sometimes hard to spot. Jargon does have its uses. It serves as a shorthand language for restricted groups of people who all share a common understanding of a subject. It therefore allows them to communicate with each other quickly and effectively. This is fine. The problem starts when it is used to communicate to wider groups, and when others start using it who don’t know what it means. Left unchallenged, jargon becomes the norm. Its use and misuse proliferates. So, the key to good written communication is keeping it simple. Write in plain English so everyone can understand what you are trying to say. If individuals within organisations stopped using jargon when they talk to each other, there’s a reasonable chance they might stop using it when they write. So, here’s an idea: replace the swear box with an jargon box. Every time someone uses jargon they put a quid in it. A harsh regime you may think. It will, however get everyone taking plain English more seriously and thinking about the language they use. It may cost the worse offenders a fair bit of cash. But every cloud has a silver lining: at the end of the week all the money goes to a worthy cause, (like buying everyone in the office an ice cream).