Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is Jargon Always Bad?

I am not, by any means, a perfect writer.

But I do know bad writing when I see it.

And not only bad writing, but confusing organization that leaves one trying to figure out where to go with what’s been offered.

For example, out at work today we were sent a survey from the Department of Energy. They want to know about our commuting habits – how do we get to work each day, and how much carbon are we (and the complex as a whole) pooping out each day to do so.

Here’s their form. It’s a bit confusing, as my redline shows. (First page only, Vasili.)
Because I’m a technical writer with time on my hands, I rearranged things and fixed things. See what you think. Hopefully, this is less confusing. I won’t say it’s perfect because it’s not been peer reviewed (which sometimes helps and sometimes does not) but to the way I think, it’s easier to understand. (Again, first page only.)
I broke a big rule: I introduced jargon – speaking of “legs” of a journey. That’s my revision’s biggest flat, I think. But sometimes in avoiding jargon, we drift further away from clarity than the jargon implies. Because to me, the “first leg” of the journey implies going from home to the bus or vehicle pool pickup location (or stop). Getting to the work location (first), for me, requires two different legs – one from home to the bus stop via single passenger vehicle, the next via bus. I think the form as I put it together is better.

What think you?

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