Clear writing: Keep it short

Write messages that are easy to read, understand

Clear writing: Keep it short

Can you read me now? Is your message short and easy to read? That’s one of the two key questions people ask to determine whether to read your piece — or toss it. Image by Jean Gerber

Why clear writing?

Information overload: Don't drown them

Information overload: Don’t drown them

Cut through the competition

Drowning in data Your readers receive the equivalent of 174 newspapers a day. How can your message compete?


Literacy rates: Read 'em and weep

Literacy rates: Read ’em and weep

18% of U.S. adults have below-basic reading skills

Going down Literacy rates around the world are low and getting lower. Are you smart enough to write for a fifth grader?


Time spent reading: not much

Time spent reading: not much

Americans average 19 minutes a day with the written word

Tick tock People spend very 12 minutes a day reading news, 19 minutes a day reading for fun and less than an hour a day reading for work. How much time are they devoting to your message?


Cut Through the Clutter

Story length: Shorter’s better

Story length: Shorter’s better

Don’t leave them wanting less

Short story Readers don’t want more information. They want the right information.


Paragraph length: Too long? They'll skip

Paragraph length: Too long? They’ll skip

Make copy look easier to read

Skipping! If your paragraph looks too long, people will skip it. So how long is too long?


Writing with statistics

Writing with statistics

Take the Numb Out of Numbers

Make numbers count Find the right numbers, get the numbers right and stop making readers’ eyes glaze over.


Sentence length: It's confusing

Sentence length: It’s confusing

Add a word, reduce comprehension

Get it? Sentence length is one of the top 2 predictors of readability. The longer the sentence, the harder it is to understand.


Phrase tighteners: Nix baggy writing

Phrase tighteners: Nix baggy writing

Avoid jargon, passive voice & more

Needless to say is needless to say Get rid of repetitive redundancies and other ways to tighten baggy phrases …


Word length: Each syllable adds effort

Word length: Each syllable adds effort

Avoid a multisyllabic pileup

Words first Word length is the top predictor of readability. The shorter your words, the easier your message is to read.


Readability matters

Readability matters

Highly literate readers do better with easy text

Can you read me now? Make your copy easier to read and understand with readability indexes, statistics and other tools.


Conversational copy: Talk it out

Conversational copy: Talk it out

Write as you speak

Conduct a sound check Run the “Hey, did you hear?” test.


More on clear writing

Resources on clear writing

Resources on clear writing

Websites, books and tools

Cut it out Get more tips and tools for making every piece you write easier to read and understand.


Get more tips on concise writing on Rev Up Readership.


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