We can say a lot in 1000 words, and a few pictures.

In May I encouraged everyone to think of how to explain their research using the most common 1000 words in American English. There were a lot of excellent submissions!

Now, take a look at this winning poster from a team of Penn State researchers entitled, “Powering Your Car with Sunlight”! The researchers were allowed one word in addition to the list of 1000 common words: energy.

Read more about their effort here, and check out the other poster entries here.

Yes, we can more efficiently explain our research when we use language that is more technical than the 1000 most common words. But I will argue that we can more effectively communicate our research when we take the time to consider the minimal level of technical jargon needed to convey the underlying principles.