January 25, 2018

Put Your Writing on a Diet

I resolved to lose weight this year. I’m committed to putting my writing on a diet, too.

Readers remember more when your words are short, sentences vary in length and jargon doesn’t muddle the meaning. What do you enjoy reading? Write like that.

Here are tips to help write leaner, cleaner copy:
  • Choose shorter words (“use” instead of “utilize,” for example).
  • Keep most sentences 15-20 words long.
  • Trim the fat from phrases. For example, “in the event that” becomes “if,” and “due to the fact that” is better as “because.” How many phrases on this infographic have you used this week?
  • Be more active. Active voice automatically uses fewer words (“The town was destroyed by fire” becomes “Fire destroyed the town.”) Plus, the sentence is stronger and more direct.
  • Put the Bottom Line Up Front. A BLUF paragraph summarizes the problem and recommendations right away, rather than at the end. The purpose: faster decision making. BLUF is common in military communications and may be useful when storytelling just isn’t the right approach.
  • Power up your headlines. Include key words before headlines cut off on digital platforms and tiny mobile screens. Limit headlines to 55 characters for social media and 40 characters for mobile apps.
How have you strengthened your writing? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR.