April 27, 2017

Get the words out

Write tight sentences, like the Times

How long should your sentences be?

Get the words out

Don’t discombobulate readers. Short sentences make it easier for your audience members to understand.

According to the American Press institute:

  • When the average sentence length in a piece was fewer than eight words long, readers understood 100% of the story.
  • Even at 14 words, they could comprehend more than 90% of the information.
  • But move up to 43-word sentences, and comprehension dropped below 10%.

Benchmark your writing against the Times’.

How does The New York Times stack up?

Read full article >

Related stories

“There’s not much to be said about the period, except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.”
— William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well

Cut Through the Clutter

Measure, monitor and manage readability with a cool (free!) tool

Would your message be twice as good if it were half as long?

Don't bang your head against a brick wall

Don’t bang your head against a word wall Learn how to sharpen your copy with the right length for stories, paragraphs, words.

The research says yes: The shorter your piece, the more likely readers are to read your message, understand it and make good decisions based on it.

But most communicators (and, let’s be fair, their reviewers) ignore the research and keep piling on the paragraphs. The result? “You’re not more informed,” writes Tom Rosenstiel, former media critic for the Los Angeles Times. “You’re just numbed.”

So how long is too long? What’s the right length for your piece? Your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?

At Cut Through the Clutter — our two-day tight-writing master class on April 6-7 in Washington, D.C. — you’ll run your message through a cool (free!) tool to measure, monitor and manage readability.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Analyze your message for 27 readability metrics — and leave with quantifiable targets, tips and techniques for improving each one.
  • Increase reading, understanding and sharing with five techniques for cutting your copy significantly.
  • Stop discombobulating readers with long sentences. Leave this workshop with 11 metrics for reducing sentence length and increasing comprehension.
  • Avoid causing your reader to skip your paragraphs. Find out how long is too long — and leave with three ways to shorten paragraphs.
  • Eliminate multisyllabic pileups from your copy. They’re the No. 1 predictor of poor readability.

This is the only writing workshop we have planned in Washington, D.C. in 2017. Don’t miss out on your chance to Cut Through the Clutter in D.C.! Register now.

“Subconsciously, I started ‘cutting the clutter’ almost immediately after the workshop ended. Poorly written flyers at the elevator. Wordy billboards while driving. I’ve simplified the message in some new marketing pieces already. And, our director likes it!”
— Christina Dunlop, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, ACSET

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in Los Angeles: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in Los Angeles on Feb. 23-24, 2017
Register for Catch Your Reader: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Las Vegas on March 22-23, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's Tight Writing workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 6-7, 2017
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Chicago on May 18-19, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Portland on July 27-28, 2017
Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's tight-writing workshop in San Francisco on Aug, 17-18, 2017
Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller in New York: Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop in New York on Sept. 25-26, 2017
Register for Catch Your Readers in Dallas: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Dallas on Oct. 16-17
Register for Not Your Father's News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017
Register for Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked - Ann Wylie's online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Chicago: May 18-19, 2017
  • Dallas: Oct. 16-17, 2017
  • Des Moines: Feb. 8, 2017
  • Fresno, CA: Jan. 24, 2017
  • Geneva: Dec. 1
  • Jackson, Mississippi: Nov. 9
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17, 2017
  • Las Vegas: March 22-23, 2017
  • Los Angeles: Feb. 23-24, 2017
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12, 2017
  • New York: Sept. 25-26, 2017
  • Portland: July 27-28, 2017
  • San Francisco: Aug. 17-18, 2017
  • Washington, D.C.: April 6-7, 2017
  • White Plains, New York: Dec. 13

Keep up with my calendar.