Whether you’re working on a press release, writing a blog, or sending an email, your first goal should be to make it easy to read, while also getting your point across. Everybody knows that a catchy lede is crucial when writing because you need to capture your reader’s attention – and keep it. But what else can you do to make your text easier to follow? The following are some ideas and tips that will help get your message across:
- Make the headline work for you. If a lede is important in getting the reader to actually read the first graph, a headline is even more crucial to drawing attention to whatever you’re writing. Make sure it correctly emphasizes your subject matter. And, if you can’t get it all in a headline, use a subhead.
- When you have a lot of points to make or subjects to address, use bullet points or numbered lists. This enables the reader to scan the material and absorb it quicker.
- Be aware of the length of your sentences. Run-on sentences are a particular pet peeve of mine, so read and re-read your copy to make sure it’s not overloaded with words that go on and on and end up not making a bit of sense, while also confusing your reader or making them lose interest. See what I did there? Yep, run-on sentences are the worst! A good rule of thumb is 20-25 words per sentence but mix it up and throw in some shorter sentences to help keep the reader interested.
- Know when to say when. Don’t bog down a paragraph with too many thoughts or ideas and, for heaven’s sake, if a graph is taking up half a page it’s TOO LONG. In general, it’s best to communicate one concept or idea per graph.
- End your release, blogs, letter, etc. with a graph that ties the entire piece together.
If you follow these simple tips, your readers will have a much easier time following along and understanding what you’re trying to convey – and you’ll likely get a much better response!