When approaching writing, we follow Hake’s six key rules to clearer, more effective and engaging copy. In our last three blogs, we looked at rules number one (know your audience), two (set a clear goal) and three (getting the tone right). This week we are looking at:
Rule Number Four: Use Clear Words
Jargon, technical terms, business-speak and complicated words — They alienate your audience and turn them off. Readers want words they can understand and content they can enjoy and this is achieved by words that have a clear meaning and speak directly them.
But That’s Not How We Talk Around Here
Many organisations oppose plain and straightforward language. Instead, they favour complicated and intellectual words that demonstrate education, standing and importance. The reality: these words don’t make you sound important, they make you sound confusing. Writing clearly does not mean dumbing down, it means pleasing your audience.
How To Use Clear Langauge
There are many useful tips to help you select real-words instead of complicated words:
If your gran won’t understand it then either explain it or don’t use it. Consider your audience and write for them, not you. Simple.
In today’s fast-paced society, an abbreviation can save you and your reader time but unless you define the acronym to begin with, your readers will be off to Google, where we all know temptation is high.
Use active verbs and avoid abstract nouns
They’re personal, clear and to the point. “I’m writing a blog” is much nicer than “the blog is being written”.
Get to the point, quickly
Long and complicated copy is boring, impersonal and worthy of not finishing. Just say it.
“A Way With Words would like to apologise that you have previously had to endure long complicated copy that you perceived to be a waste of your time because it did not get to the point.”
“We’re sorry boring copy exists.”
Cut out unnecessary words, use headings, write in short paragraphs, break up sentences and use lists.
Using words that have a clear meaning leads to clear, engaging and useful copy. You want your audience to be reading what you have to say, not a dictionary.