KEYS TO… Understanding
Terms and Jargon
When reading the lesson, keep
Technical Terms and
the following points in mind:
➜ Your job will require you
to understand specialized
➜ Context clues can help you
figure out the meaning of WorkKeys® in REAL LIFE
technical terms and jargon.
Pharmacy technicians prepare medications for pharmacy customers. They
➜ Examining a term’s word
measure and fill prescriptions, maintain patient records, and respond to
parts can give clues to its
customers’ questions. The written materials pharmacy techs read during
their workdays include technical terms and medical jargon, such as dosage,
➜ Related words also may help
you understand technical indication, and side effects. If a tech does not understand this specialized
terms and jargon. language, he or she could make a serious mistake, such as preparing the
wrong dose of medicine.
Graphic designers encounter jargon in the e-mails, guidelines, style sheets,
and other written documents they work with daily. The language is specific to
the field of design, and might include such words as mock up, layout, or
bleed. Graphic designers must understand such terms to be successful when
they design graphics for print ads, packaging, and other commercial needs.
Being comfortable with technical terms and industry jargon is essential for
technical writers. After all, it is their job to write technical materials, such
as operating instructions and equipment manuals. A technical writer must
be able to take technical information from his or her customer and make it
easy to read and understand for the eventual user.
jargon specialized language
used by members of a specific Understanding technical terms and jargon is important in just about any job
industry or field of work today. Jargon is specialized language used by members of a specific industry
technical terms terms that or field of work. For example, realtors may speak of fixer-uppers, short sales,
describe technical items, or closing costs. Technical terms are not always specific to one particular
concepts, or processes and group, but may require specialized knowledge to understand. For example,
require specialized knowledge
printed circuit boards are used in all kinds of electronic products, but without
specialized knowledge, you may not know what they do. Use the following
base a complete word that can
strategies to help you figure out the meaning of technical terms and jargon:
• Look for context clues in the surrounding sentences or paragraphs.
root a word part that contains
• Examine word parts—such as a prefix, suffix, base or root—for clues
the core meaning of a word
to a word’s meaning.
• Think about related words (word families). What do they tell you?
98 UNIT 3 Lesson 14
What’s the Job? Pharmacy technicians must read many types of
written communications as they prepare medications for their customers.
Understanding jargon and technical terms is vital for the job.
Read this memo from the pharmacy manager and the question that
follows it. Then, look at the clues under What Do I Need to Know? to help
you answer the question.
To: All Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians
Re: Look-Alike, Sound-Alike Drug Names 1 1 Remember that context
clues can help you figure
As a follow up to last week’s training, we’d like to remind all pharmacy
out the meaning of a word
techs and pharmacists to be vigilant when preparing all LASA drugs. There
or phrase. This context clue
are thousands of brand-name and generic drugs on the market today, and tells you what the acronym
the potential for errors resulting from confusing drug names is significant. 2
LASA stands for: Look-Alike
Please post the attached table of LASA combinations prominently and Sound-Alike.
review it regularly. In addition, please follow these steps to avoid 2 Context clues can be found
potentially disastrous mistakes: before or after an unfamiliar
• When taking verbal drug orders, repeat the name of the drug, the dos- term. This clue follows the
age, and the spelling. term LASA drugs and lets
you know that LASA drugs
• Do not store LASA medications in alphabetical order. Keep them in
have confusing names.
separate locations to avoid mix-ups.
• Require health care providers to type drug names, rather than handwrit-
• Ask them to write the purpose of the medication on the prescription.
Call doctors for clarification as needed.
• Print both the generic (nonproprietary) name and the brand name on the
medication label. Career Words
• Use “tall man” lettering to emphasize drug name differences. “tall man” lettering the practice
of writing part of a LASA drug’s
name in upper case letters to
You work as a pharmacy technician. What are LASA drugs?
help distinguish it from a similar
A. Nonproprietary drugs LASA drug
B. Brand-name and generic drugs
C. Drugs with more than one medical purpose
D. Drugs with confusing names that look alike or sound alike
E. Drugs that are prescribed in combination with other drugs
What do I Need to Know? This question is asking about jargon. First,
reread the memo to find the term that the question refers to—LASA drugs.
Look for context clues in the surrounding sentences to help you figure out
the meaning. In this case, there are two context clues to help you. The
answer is D—Drugs with confusing names that look alike or sound alike.
Understanding Technical Terms and Jargon 99
Clients routinely send instructions, memos, updates, and other written
KEYS to Success documents to graphic designers. Many of these documents, such as the
Remember that there is more e-mail shown here, include jargon and technical terms that the designer
than one strategy you can must understand to be able to complete the project properly.
use to figure out jargon and
technical terms. Context clues After reading the e-mail, choose the best answer for each item.
can help, but you also can
look at a word’s parts (prefix,
suffix, base/root) to help you From: Maleek Usher
understand it. Related words To: Donna Sanderston
also can provide information Cc: Anita Santosh
that can help you figure out Subject: Feedback
jargon and technical terms. Hi, Donna:
Anita and I took a look at the latest poster design and we think it’s looking
really good. We have just a few comments:
• We’d like to change the tagline from “We all want one.” to “Everyone
wants ONE.” Note: all caps for the word one.
1 Sometimes, you can use • Can we reverse out the type rather than overprinting it? We’re 1
more than one strategy to concerned about readability. As it is now, having the type printed
figure out a term. Here you over the busy background makes it hard to read. 1
can break overprinting into
• Can you show the main image as both full bleed and silhouetted
its parts (over + print + ing)
against a bright background?
and use context clues from a
sentence that follows the • The main image is still marked as FPO. Is it really being used for
term to help you understand placement only? If so, when will we see another image choice? Or is
that overprinting means permissions still working on securing the rights for this image? 2
printing on top of an image. • We’d like to revisit the color palette you presented last week. The range
2 Remember to use what you of colors shown here seems a little washed out. We want the poster to
know about related words to really catch people’s eyes.
help you figure out a
technical term or an example We’d like to schedule a pinup with our entire team for next Thursday. Do
of jargon. Here, you can use you think you can make these changes in time? We always find it helpful to
your understanding of the actually see the design as it will look when it is printed. You can walk us
verb permit and the noun through the various options at the pinup. Oh, and don’t forget to add the
permission to figure out that QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) to the related mailers. We love that our
permissions is the group that customers will be able to use their smart phones to link directly to our site
works to get photographers using those codes.
to allow (or permit) the use
of their images. Finally, please e-mail your invoices directly to Kim in billing and copy
me from now on. I’ve sent your last two on to her. Thanks!
100 UNIT 3 Lesson 14
1. You are the designer who received this email. To make the word one all
caps, you should:
Hint: Reread the sentences surrounding the term all caps and look for context clues. Answer choices can be tricky.
Also, think about any words you know that are related to the term caps. What do the Sometimes an incorrect
related words tell you?
answer choice will provide part
A. underscore the whole word. of the answer or will include
B. boldface each letter in the word. key words from the passage.
C. italicize each letter in the word. Read each answer choice
D. capitalize each letter in the word. carefully. Only one will answer
E. change the capitals to lowercase letters. the question completely and
2. The client is concerned about readability. He is worried that:
Hint: Think about related words, such as readable. Then look for context clues in the
A. the words are unclear and hard to read.
B. the language is too difficult for most readers.
C. the text is boring and won’t interest readers.
D. the vocabulary is too easy for the audience.
E. the tagline is not persuasive.
3. In this e-mail, what does the acronym FPO stand for?
Hint: Find the acronym in the passage. Reread to see if the acronym is defined in the
A. For partners only
B. For publishing only
C. For placement only
D. For preparation only
E. For printing only
4. What does the term color palette mean, as it is used in this e-mail?
Hint: Sometimes a term is restated in other words. Find the term color palette and
read on to find a restatement of the term.
A. The colors available in the design program
B. The range of colors used in a design
C. The materials the designer uses to create colors
D. The guidelines provided for mixing colors
E. The sample colors provided by the client
5. What does a designer do at a pinup?
Hint: Reread the sentences that discuss the pinup. Context clues are provided that
will help you figure out the meaning of the term.
A. Discusses new ideas with the design team
B. Works with production to finish the design
C. Pulls up the color options on the computer
D. Pins the various design elements into place
E. Shows the completed design options to the client
Answers: 1. D; 2. A; 3. C; 4. B; 5. E
Understanding Technical Terms and Jargon 101
In order to present technical information clearly and consistently in
their writing, technical writers must understand the technical terms
and industry jargon they encounter on the job. The following guidelines
explain a client’s requirements for writing a Quick Setup Guide for the
company’s product—a blu-ray disc player. It includes terms that the writer
must understand in order to do his or her job well.
After reading the guidelines, choose the best answer for each item.
The XYZ Blu-Ray Disc Player, product model BRD-S4900, provides the highest
quality HD (High Definition) video playback available in the industry. Your job
is to create a Quick Setup Guide that provides the basic steps a user must
complete to begin enjoying the product as quickly and easily as possible.
The Quick Setup Guide will be a double-sided tri-fold brochure, 6 × 8.5
inches. See the attached spec sheet for information on diagrams, fonts,
fonts styles of type
font size, and document length. All specifications must be followed exactly.
You will use our in-house style guide to answer all style questions, but the
following reminders are included for your convenience:
Heads: All headings should be written as gerund phrases (e.g., Connecting
to a TV) rather than complete sentences. Headings should be boldfaced and
aligned with the left margin.
Diagrams: All diagrams should include callouts to label and explain
Steps: Steps should be numbered. Do not use letters or bullets.
Brief Content Outline
Section 1: In this section, you will explain how to connect the player to a TV
with an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable. HDMI transmits
uncompressed digital data over a single cable and will provide the best
quality experience for the consumer.
Section 2: Here you will explain how to connect the player to a TV using
component video cables.
Section 3: This section should cover how to connect to a TV using video/
Section 4: Explain in simple language how to configure the player’s initial
Section 5: Provide information on playing a disc. Include a chart to explain
the buttons related to playback on the remote control.
102 UNIT 3 Lesson 14
1. You are a technical writer. According to the guidelines, what should the
Quick Setup Guide explain?
A. The fastest way to set up the player and the TV After selecting your answer,
B. The basic steps required to set up the player reread all the answer choices
C. How to troubleshoot the player one last time to make sure
D. How to operate the player that you have chosen the
E. The setup of the TV correct one.
2. What does the term spec stand for in the guidelines?
3. According to the guidelines, what purpose do callouts serve?
A. They call attention to safety features.
B. They diagram the parts of the machine.
C. They provide detailed information about each part.
D. They label and explain important features.
E. They highlight child hazards.
4. According to the guidelines, an HDMI cable:
A. transmits uncompressed digital data.
B. supports compressed video information.
C. connects three interfaces.
D. broadcasts analog signals.
E. decodes video data.
When you come across technical terms ➜ Examining a term’s word parts may help you
and jargon: understand it.
➜ Context clues in the surrounding sentences ➜ Related words can provide clues to
and paragraphs can help you decipher an meaning.
Understanding Technical Terms and Jargon 103