June 25, 2017

Make size and scale visual

How tiny is tiny? How huge is huge?

How small is small? One-third the size of a ladybug? The size of a sprinkle on an ice cream cone?

Make size and scale visual

Smaller than a ladybug? Help readers ‘see’ size through metaphor and simile. Image by Häli Joonas

Analogy, metaphor, simile and other comparisons can help your readers literally “see” the size and scale you’re communicating.

Help readers see

A J-school friend of mine, The Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Helliker, used that approach in his Pulitzer Prize-winning explanatory series on aneurysms:

“A radiologist scrutinizing film for gall stones can’t help noticing if an aorta, typically the diameter of a garden hose, measures as large as a soda can.”

OK, now I get it.

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“We do not expect reporters to be mathematical geniuses. But we do expect them to sidestep their mind-numbing fear of mathematics long enough to ask, ‘Does this make sense?’ ‘What would I conclude from these numbers?’”
— A.K. Dewdney, author of 200% of Nothing

Take the ‘Numb’ Out of Numbers

Make statistics understandable and interesting

If your readers are like most, they have, on average, below basic numeracy, or numerical literacy, according a massive international literacy study.

Number crunching

Number crunching Learn to simplify statistics, make your numbers understandable and improve readability. Image by Tasha Metamorfosis

So how well are they understanding your quarterly results?

“Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants,” writes Daniel Okrent, former New York Times ombudsman.

Indeed, poorly handled, statistics can make your readers’ eyes glaze over.

At Cut Through the Clutter — our two-day writing master class on April 6-7 in Washington, D.C., and on Aug. 17-18 in San Francisco — you’ll master the art of making numbers understandable as well as interesting.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid statistics soup and data dumps using three simple steps.
  • Help readers understand your numbers by asking one key question every time your fingers reach for the top row of the keyboard.
  • Make numbers more emotional by turning them into people, places and things.
  • Create meaningful — not discombobulating — charts and graphs.
  • Find free tools that create attractive charts for you.

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

“I am using everything I learned in your class and more from the supporting materials. My writing has greatly improved, and my communications colleagues are coming to me for tips.”
— Peggy Brody, manager, clinical communications, marketing and communications, Trinity Health

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 Catch Your Reader: Ann Wylie's persuasive writing workshop in Boston on June 19-20, 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:

  • Boston: June 19-20
  • Chicago: May 18-19
  • Dallas: Oct. 16-17
  • Des Moines: Feb. 8
  • Fresno, CA: Jan. 24
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Las Vegas: March 22-23
  • Los Angeles: Feb. 23-24
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: Sept. 25-16
  • Portland: July 27-28
  • San Francisco: Aug. 17-18
  • Washington, D.C.: April 6-7

Keep up with my calendar.