Make copy easier to read, understand
Words too long? Here are four ways to reduce your average syllable or character count:
1. Eyeball your copy.
Scan for long words.
2. Substitute shorter words where you can.
A thesaurus can help. But don’t use Microsoft Word’s, which seems capable only of identifying longer words as substitutes. Instead, here are three I recommend:
And one of my favorite new tools is Thsrs (The shorter thesaurus). Enter a long word, like “ironic,” and it gives you a shorter word, like “dry” or “wry.”
3. Pack the remaining long words with one- and two-syllable words.
The problem with most long words isn’t the words themselves, it’s the fact that people who use long words tend to use a lot of them in a row. Break up those multisyllabic pileups with shorter words.
4. Put your long words in a short sentence.
The top two predictors of readability are sentence length and word length. If your words are on the long side, keep your sentences on the short side.
Sources: Ann Wylie, Cut Through the Clutter, Wylie Communications Inc., 2005