The longer your piece, the less readers will read
Size does matter.
The longer your story, the less of it your readers will read — and the less likely they are to understand and act on it.
That’s according to 60 years of research correlating story length with readership, comprehension, decision-making — even jam buying and 401(k) plan participation.
“We take it, as a given, that the more information decision makers have, the better off they are,” writes Malcolm Gladwell in Blink. But “all that extra information isn’t actually an advantage at all … In fact [it‘s] more than useless. It’s harmful. It confuses the issues.”
Increase reading by 33%.
Wilbur Schramm, the “father of communication studies,” was one of the first people to study the effect of story length on reading. In 1947, he interviewed 1,050 readers about what they read, how much and why they stopped. He found that …
The more info you give readers, the less they’ll understand
The more details you give ER doctors, the less likely they are to correctly diagnose that someone is having a heart attack in the emergency room now.
The more data you give accountants, the worse they’ll do at figuring out which companies will go bankrupt within five years. The more text you give physics students, the lower their grades on tests.
So how long is too long?
At Cut Through the Clutter — a two-day tight-writing Master Class on May 11-12 in Chicago — you’ll learn “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your copy’s readability. And you’ll get the research you need to sell managers and approvers on these targets.
Specifically, you’ll discover:
- How long is too long for your paragraphs, sentences and words
- Three ways to shorten your copy — and which is the best way
- How to use a cool (free!) tool to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability (We’ve seen readability rise by as much as 1,246% in one hour during these classes.)
This is the only Cut Through the Clutter Master Class we’ve scheduled for this year and our only Chicago workshop. Don’t miss your only chance in 2016 to learn to make everything you write easier to read and understand. Register now.
Learn to Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more