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Concise Writing ~ 5 Tips for Modern Times: Guest Post

Concise writing is more important than ever before.

The art of writing has changed. How we write has had to change because how we read has changed. And all of this is because society has changed.

We can probably blame technology. Our ability to access masses of information so quickly has created a world full of not readers, but skimmers. So how do you write in a way that your work will actually be read in today’s world? Here are a few pointers for preparing concise writing such as blog posts and press releases.

1. Consider your word count. Newspapers and magazines have figured this out. If you picked up a copy of Maclean’s magazine 20 years ago, you would have found much longer stories. If you worked for a newspaper back then, the editor would have expected longer articles. It’s not uncommon now for a newspaper to put in place a limit of as few as 400 words. Concise writing or shorter stories get read. Even shorter briefs get read more.

2. Don’t be afraid to write like you speak. Leave the thesaurus alone and just be yourself. I call this “conversational” writing. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend. Save big words for academic essays.

3. Still keeping in line with the theme of keeping things short, there’s nothing wrong with short sentences. They’re easier to read than long ones. And really, that’s what it’s all about—ease of reading. If it’s not easy to be read, it won’t be read.

4. Make use of “white space”. Break up large blocks of text by creating multiple paragraphs. Even consider bulleted or number lists, and elements like pull-quotes and graphics.

5. WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS CONSTRUED AS YELLING. Oh, and writing with the caps lock on also makes your text harder to read. Instead, create emphasis using italics or bolding. (Avoid excessive exclamation marks too!!!!!!!)

Do you have any modern writing pet peeves? Or are you guilty of ignoring the need for concise writing and relying on your thesaurus and creating unnecessarily long sentences? Leave a comment. (But keep it brief.)

Daniel Mark WheatonDaniel Mark Wheaton is a professional writer based in Saint John, New Brunswick. His mission is to help people in the pursuit of the careers and business ventures that excite them, through quality writing and accurate editing services. the [this could be big] blog

 

3 Comments

  1. MamaRed on February 27, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Love these points and agree with them all (although I’m rather guilty of the exclamation points). One of my pet peeves (guess it is because I came from the world of technical writing where numbered and bulleted lists were key components of “good” writing, so that one is a habit for me. What I don’t like is people writing partial sentences and then trailing off into another topic. EEK, better go check to see if I did that. Thanks as always for a great post Catherine.

  2. The Great Gordino on February 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Great tips!
    I use two of them all the time – conversational style and lots of white space.

    I tend to keep paragraphs to two or three sentences. Any more than that and it starts to look too ‘wordy’, and people will shoot right on past!

    Thanks for the share,
    Cheers,
    Gordon

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