Cut Through the Clutter
Try a bikini lead instead
Some folks write “suitcase leads”: They try to cram all of the story elements into the top. Instead, make yours a bikini lead, and cover just the most interesting essentials.… Read the full article
Read your copy aloud
When Don Murray arrived in the newsroom for his first day on the job as writing coach for the Boston Globe, he turned to his new boss and said: “I can tell you who your three best writers are.”… Read the full article
Write a letter to make your copy conversational
“Good writers are visible just behind their words.”
— William Zinsser, author, On Writing Well
Eliot Fette Noyes was a Harvard-trained architect and industrial designer.… Read the full article
Write tight sentences, like the Times
How long should your sentences be?
According to the American Press institute:
- When the average sentence length in a piece was fewer than eight words long, readers understood 100% of the story.
How to fix this winner of Ann’s Bad Writing Contest
“Revving Up Readership” subscriber Burton St. John sent this sentence to Ann’s Bad Writing Contest:
“The relative importance of and relationships between design processes and production/delivery processes depend upon many factors, including the nature of the products and services, technology requirements, issues of modularity and parts commonality, customer and supplier relationships and involvement, product and service customization, and overall company strategy.”
Convince reviewers to abandon jargon
Richard Teerlink, chairman of Harley-Davidson, stands in front of a screen showing a bicep emblazoned with his company’s logo.
“We don’t call them tattoos any more,” he told his audience.… Read the full article
Not the terms in your head
When it comes to medical terms, readers don’t know what communicators are talking about, according to T. J. and Sandar Larkin.… Read the full article
Reach the period sooner
The story goes that when future columnist James J. Kilpatrick was a young newspaper reporter, he wrote lots of deadly long sentences.… Read the full article
Stop these institutional mistakes for readability
Want to make sure you’re not eradicating clarity in your organization?
Slaughter these problems instead, suggest Martin J. Eppler, Ph.D.,… Read the full article