Avoid unnecessarily complex words and jargon

Use familiar words where possible

Use common words rather than grandiose ones (ie plain not posh!). Simple language is doubly important when the content is difficult or unfamiliar. If the concepts are tough for the reader, couching them in difficult words might push comprehension out of reach.

Instead of
The drug is known to be fungitoxic but not phytotoxic.
The drug kills fungi but not plants.

The preferred word may not be shorter, but it must be more familiar – as always, think about your audience and what will be comfortable for them.

Instead of … How about …
analogous to           

similar to       


deleterious harmful


jugal related to the cheekbone

a As in: ‘It’s all gone pyriform.’

The last example replaces one obscure word with 4 easy ones. This shows that jargon is not always a curse. For the right audience, a technical word carries a lot of meaning concisely; jugal is fine if it is familiar to our audience.

Here is the Macquarie dictionary entry for contraindicate:


/kɒntrəˈɪndəkeɪt/ (say kontruh'induhkayt)

verb (t) (contraindicated, contraindicating)
(of a symptom or condition) to give indication against the advisability of (a particular or usual remedy or treatment).

We can see that, for the right reader, the word carries a quite specific meaning that includes medical implications. No simple alternative captures the nuances. If our readers know the word, we use it. If not, we might want to rephrase.

Massage is contraindicated because it may dislodge the clot.
could become
We advise against massage because it may dislodge the clot.

But that loses the implication (right or wrong) that the advice comes from well-established medical precedent.

User login

... or purchase now

An individual subscription is only A$60 per year

Group and student discounts may apply

Australian manual of scientific style Start communicating effectively