Impress with your thinking, not your language

Big words and complex sentence structure can be used to generate the impression of being ‘educated’. Some writers deliberately make text difficult to understand to create an air of mystique and to emphasis the distance between their intelligence and that of the reader. This pretense gets in the way of communication.

The source of bad writing is the desire to be more than a person of sense – to be thought a genius. If people would only say what they have to say in plain terms, how much more eloquent they would be.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Often obscure, foggy writing is a consequence of obscure, foggy thinking. The subject is not as well understood as the writer pretends, so they bombard us with words that hide meaning. Readers need to work hard to unpack the ideas. When you write in plain language your thinking is held up clearly for all to see.

It’s important to resist the temptation to impress with your language. Using plain expressions will mean more readers will understand, and readers who can handle complex language will not be disadvantaged in any way.

Sure there are times when specialist language and jargon is appropriate, but most of the time using speech patterns and the plain words of every day conversation is the most effective way to get your message across.