Free tool of the week: Jargon-Busters

jargon-capture1I’m guilty of it too—using hackneyed phrases that have no meaning any more, and letting insider jargon creep into my writing.

Part of the problem is the speed of production these days. We don’t take the time needed to be precise with language, to think about the best, most straightforward way to say what we want to say. It’s so easy to fall back on stale expressions and terminology not well understood beyond the bounds of our field.

Here are two quick free ways for noprofits and foundations to check their writing for these enemies of communication. These tools should be right up there with spellcheck and readability tests in your final editing process.

First we have HubSpot’s new Gobbledygook Grader. Just cut and paste your copy, provide your email, click Grade Content, and you immediately get feedback telling you exactly which words are gobbledygook. It also tells you the readability level of your writing. (Note: the email report feature for this tool seems to work only for press releases. Hat tip to Jamila!)

Then there’s the Communications Network’s Jargon Finder–a list of jargon especially related to the nonprofit sector. You have to comb through your writing yourself to spot these. Not that hard really, and well worth the effort.

Now, go forth and un-gobbledygook!

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3 Responses to “Free tool of the week: Jargon-Busters”

  1. Bruce Trachtenberg Says:

    Thanks for the plug for our jargon finder. Also, people are invited to send in examples of “bad words for good” they spot for posting our ever-growing “wall of shame.” Just email the word or words — and what annoys you about them or how you’ve seen them (mis)used — to: info@comnetwork.org

  2. Jamila Medley Says:

    I really like the “idea” of Goobledygook Grader. I tried it out using pages from my website and my resume! It was useful to see the specific results as regards “goobledygook” words and the grade level.

    However, the report became futile when no matter what I copied and pasted, the content was always graded as a Press Release. The feedback in this area was obviously irrelevant since I put in webpages and a resume.

    I hope the developer will find ways to provide feedback on other kinds of writing.

    • IMPACTMAX Says:

      Thanks for the info, Jamila! (I just tried it once.) I’m going to send your feedback to HubSpot, who developed this tool–in the hopes they can enlarge the range of document types it searches.


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