Whitehall new style guide bans pointless jargon

Nigel Hawthorne, as Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Prime Minister, who used archetypal civil servant language. Photo: UPPA

A new government drive to tackle pointless jargon deployed by Whitehall civil servants has been launched today.

Words such as "drive", "tackle" and "deployed", will be replaced with clearer and simpler English.

Whitehall officials have been issued a new online style guide that tells them for the first time, what would be deemed unsuitable language.

Words planned to be avoided in the future include:

  • Agenda (unless it is for a meeting)
  • Commit/pledge (we need to be more specific – we’re either doing something or we’re not)
  • Deliver (pizzas, post and services are delivered – not abstract concepts like ‘improvements’ or ‘priorities’)
  • Deploy (unless it is military or software)
  • Dialogue (we speak to people)
  • Foster (unless it is children)
  • Key (unless it unlocks something. A subject/thing isn’t ‘key’ – it’s probably ‘important’)
  • Land (as a verb. Only use if you are talking about aircraft)
  • Progress (as a verb – what are you actually doing?)
  • Promote (unless you are talking about an ad campaign or some other marketing promotion)
  • Slimming down (processes don’t diet – we are probably removing x amount of paperwork, etc)
  • Strengthening (unless it’s strengthening bridges or other structures)
  • Tackling (unless it is rugby, football or some other sport)
  • Transforming (what are you actually doing to change it?)

Officials should use "understandable language" instead, a Cabinet Office spokesman said.

ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports:

For more information, find the style guide here.