Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Confused? We Need To KISS More!

Jargon can seriously get in the way of business if no-one understands what people are talking about, or what they are writing about! I’m sure you have often come across messages that leave you feeling very confused, right? This problem happens when people use pompous or long-winded wording and phrasing to try to impress rather than to communicate. Yet really, the end result is that they do neither of these things!

Abbreviations are another thing. I read an article about someone who was making a speech and he mentioned HE (Higher Education). A member of the audience (a qualified engineer) asked “Why are you talking about High Explosives?” Sure, the context often helps to explain the correct meaning of such abbreviations, but it souldn’t be relied on. So as a general rule, always explain abbreviations when you first use them.

Using jargon can result in one of two things – the reader will get bored and stop reading, or will spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what you meant four sentences ago!

Do you know any writers who sometimes concentrate so hard on what they want to say that they become absorbed in their impressive flow of wonderful words instead of talking in everyday language that the reader will understand?

Take a look at these before and after examples found on the website:

Before After
If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone. If you have any questions please call.
High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.
High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process. Please read the notes opposite before you fill in the form. Then send it back to us as soon as possible in the envelope provided.

You can KISS if you follow these simple rules

1. Use short words instead of long ones:

Instead of Say
commence start
regarding about
purchase buy
utilise use
require need
endeavour try
terminate end
state say
visualise see
despatch send
assist help
kindly please

2. Use one word instead of phrases where possible:

Instead of Say
in spite of the fact that despite
come to a decision decide
with regard to about
at the present moment in time now
conduct an investigation investigate
in view of the fact that as, since
in the event that if
in the very near future soon
at a later date later
we would like to ask you to please
I would appreciate it if you would please

3. Cut out unnecessary repetitions:

Instead of Say
absolutely essential essential
accidentally stumbled stumbled
actual experience experience
advance planning planning
assemble together assembled
end result result
personal opinion opinion
very unique unique
general consensus of opinion consensus
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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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