Finding Jargon and Acronyms in Documents

Finding Jargon and Acronyms in Documents

The use of jargon and acronyms is rampant.

I believe the reason for this is because authors and presenters often lack a deep and fluid understanding of their subject, and the heavy use of jargon and acronyms is an attempt to show inclusion, to be part of the "in the know" crowd.

Those who read or hear the jargon and acronyms and are confused by them will feel like they are not part of the team. Desperately wanting to fit in, they start repeating the jargon and acronyms without ever asking "What does that mean?"

Regurgitated jargon and acronyms inserted into technical documentation can be deadly to the goal of helping the end user understand processes and procedures.


So, what can you do to figure out if your important documentation is saturated with jargon and acronyms?

First, create a list of all the jargon and acronyms you have heard.

This is a good team effort if you work in an organization.

Then, run your list against the document with AuthorTec Find’n Highlight.

AuthorTec Find’n Highlight is a free Microsoft Word add-in that runs with current desktop versions of Microsoft Word for Mac and PC. Use AuthorTec Find’n Highlight to quickly locate each occurrence of your specified jargon and acronyms in your document.

Then, decide how to make the wording clearer.

Use this as an opportunity for your organization to establish a standard list of terms and definitions, with guidelines for their consistent usage.


Using AuthorTec Find and Highlight for locating all acronyms is not the only solution, because there are so many writers who appear to have graduated from the MSU school of writing, where they randomly Make Stuff Up. They may be using terms and phrases you’ve never heard before, because they just made them up.

When a more technical approach is needed, Microsoft Word has an Advanced Find and Replace function. Within this function is a feature called "Wildcards" and that is what you need to use.

In the example shown there is wildcard coding of <[A-Z]{2,10}> in the "Find what:" box. Notice the "Use wildcards" checkbox is ticked also. You read the coding as this way:

The left "<" and right ">" arrows mark the start and end of a word, respectively. In other words, this wildcard is searching for whole words. The left and right square brackets are always used in pair "[]"and show a range of specific characters. In this case we are looking for capital letters from A to Z.

The curly bracket pair usage is to count occurrences of the previously specified characters. Our coding shows that we are looking for a minimum of 2 capitalized characters next to each other and a maximum of 10 characters. The reason for including a maximum number is so that the search does not just return the first 2-characters of a long multi-character acronym.

Learning to use Wildcards for searching Word documents is an asset to your productivity. For fully ferreting out acronyms in large documents, it is essential.

You can learn more about it from this website link, Finding and replacing characters using wildcards.


AuthorTec Find & Highlight

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Quickly locate & edit text in Microsoft Word documents.

AuthorTec Find'n Highlight searches your document for a list of potential words & phrases, highlights any that are found, and allows you to efficiently move from one to the next to edit as needed.

Runs with PC Office 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010 & Mac Office 2019 & 2016


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