Are you struggling to achieve a crisp, business-like writing style?
Here are three keys to better writing.
They’re all right there on your keyboard, and using them is free.
Delete key: Cut unnecessary words
And replace longer words with shorter words.
Here’s one trick for doing that.
Whenever you see similar terms joined with “and” or “or” these are called “redundant pairs.” Pick the stronger or more specific and drop the weaker or more generic. For example:
- “verbose or run-on sentences” = “run-on sentences”
- “humid and muggy afternoons” = “muggy afternoons”
- “large and bulky packages” = “bulky packages”
- “authoritarian and stern leaders” = “stern leaders”
Now re-examine the last bullet above. Notice how “stern” has one syllable, while “authoritarian” has five.
As long as it conveys more or less the same idea, pick the word with fewer syllables.
Period key: Break longer sentences in two
Q: How long is too long for a sentence?
A: Any sentence you can’t read out loud without taking another breath.
Think of each period as a pause for you to take a breath. If you haven’t seen a period for a while, you need one.
Another simple trick is to stick to one thought per sentence.
If you notice a second thought trying to sneak in, stop it in its tracks with a period.
Enter key: Break longer paragraphs in two
Q: How long is too long for a paragraph?
A: Any chunk of text so long your eyes want to skip it.
Remember, 90% of white papers are scanned on the screen.
B2B prospects don’t savor every word like they’re reading a Jane Austen novel.
They skim, scan, and skip their way down the screen. Don’t you?
To sum up
Use fewer words. Use shorter words. Use shorter sentences. And use shorter paragraphs.
Decades of research show these three keys add up to easier reading.
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