Making it easier on your reader doesn’t mean they are dumb

by kriggins on November 25, 2008

in Writing

In this post I offered three tips on writing that make it easier for your reader. Someone anonymously left the following comment.

Is this like the April 1st-type advice? Clearly, these tips are about writing for rejectees from “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?”…. Come on!

Not the most constructive comment, but he does bring up a point I want to address.

Writing in a clear, concise, easy to read, and easy to understand manner is not a judgment of the intelligence of your reader. It’s about making something less complicated than it needs to be. It’s about making it easy for your readers to read and internalize.

Can your readers understand long sentences? Of course they can, but are they willing too? Can you banish white space? Sure, but is that in your reader’s best interest? Can you use your encyclopedic vocabulary? Yup. But “big words” would have worked in the last question just as well.

Shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, and common language do not mean dumbing down your writing. It means making the information you are trying to share easier to get at for your reader. That's why you are writing in the first place isn't it?


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thomas Nicholson November 25, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Keep it simple works for information security and everything else. You also need to keep in mind that when you write something (print or web) you usually have only a few seconds at most to grab your readers attention. After that they aren’t really retaining anything you wrote anyways. In business writing they teach you to write concisely. Which is the opposite of when your in college and its all about word/page counts.


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