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15:2 Avoid Jargon

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Web Content - Writing


Do not use words that typical users may not understand.


Terminology plays a large role in the user’s ability to find and understand information. Many terms are familiar to designers and content writers, but not to users. In one study, some users did not understand the term ’cancer screening.’ Changing the text to ’testing for cancer’ substantially improved users’ understanding.

To improve understanding among users who are accustomed to using the jargon term, it may be helpful to put that term in parentheses. A dictionary or glossary may be helpful to users who are new to a topic, but should not be considered a license to frequently use terms typical users do not understand.


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Poor Example:

These Web pages, often visited by the public, do not use language that is accessible and free of jargon.