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Short sentences are easier to understand
Add a word, reduce comprehension: Shorter sentences are easier to understand than long, complex sentences. But how short?
March 19, 2020
Think in decision layers, make risks vivid & more
Overwhelmed by choice: From jars of jam to 401(k) plans, when you give readers too many choices, they often give up.
March 10, 2020
Researchers find a 1:1 correlation between vivid descriptions and comprehension
Turn ideas into things: Researchers found an almost one-to-one correlation between how concrete a passage was and how easy it was to understand.
March 03, 2020
People perform better with short-form vs. long-form content
Less is more: Long form content is typically a good choice for Google. But what about humans? People make better decisions with less information.
February 25, 2020
Steal these tricks from theSkimm
Make ’em smile, make ’em think, make ’em Skimm. Boost your open rates and click-through rates when you steal these 3 tricks from theSkimm. (Great for mobile devices!)
February 18, 2020
Don’t make your readers’ eyes glaze over
Avoid statistics soup: Use only the numbers that are necessary for the reader’s understanding.
February 11, 2020
Grab attention, keep it longer, communicate better & more
EnLightening: Creative material enhances credibility, gets shared, gets people to read longer — even slashes communicator’s burnout and improves performance.
February 04, 2020
Do shorter subject lines really get higher open rates?
Measure up: What’s the optimal subject line length? 60 characters? 40? 25 to 30? More? Less?
January 28, 2020
They suck the energy out of your copy
Reverbify noun phrases: Noun phrases muddy your words, lengthen your phrases and bore your readers. Turn anemic noun phrases into strong verbs.
January 21, 2020
7 superpowers — and 4 potential pitfalls — of link writing
Click here: Good link text increases click through rates, helps search engines find your page and helps screen readers understand your message.
January 14, 2020
Overcome the obstacles of reaching readers on smartphones
Get clicked: When reading emails on mobile, recipients click 40% less often, find it 48% harder to understand content and are more likely to unsubscribe. Now what?
January 07, 2020
Here’s to better writing in the New Year
Cheers! Here are some of my favorite quotes on writing. What new writing techniques can you pick up from these masters?
December 31, 2019
Give readers helpful, how-to information
Give the people what they want: Information I can use to live my life better travels farther and faster on social media.
December 17, 2019
Even rocket scientists and brain surgeons don’t want it to be harder
Who’s in your audience? Whether you’re writing to rocket scientists, brain surgeons or top executives, this research will help you figure out what readability level to target.
December 10, 2019
Use the Awwwww Factor to make content marketing pieces go viral
Put on a happy face: How can write blog content that gets readers to read your posts? Make messages positive and emotional.
December 03, 2019
These techniques have really helped me out this year
Write messages that stand out … Get writing tips for story structure, blog posts, the writing process and more. Boost your writing skills and improve your writing with this writing advice.
November 26, 2019
Plus: What’s the best hashtag length, word length and reading grade level for Twitter?
Tweet this! What’s the most effective length of a tweet that Twitter users will retweet? The best character limit for a hashtag? The best character count for a word on Twitter?
November 19, 2019
6 tips for crafting list articles, blog posts
Step 1 — List lists: Before you write your next listicle, check out this list of six tips for crafting readable, scannable lists.
November 12, 2019
To cut your syllable count, make subjects characters
Just do it: Take these tips for making your message active from the Little Red Schoolhouse.
November 05, 2019
Choose short, simple, easy-to-pronounce terms
Trust me: ‘Fluent’ words — those that are short, simple, and easy to pronounce — are seen as less dangerous.
October 29, 2019
Tell readers what you’re going to tell ’em
Put the kernel of your story into a nutshell. That’s your nut graph.
October 22, 2019
5 steps to a stellar service story
Step by step to a service story: Tip sheets, aka how-to or service stories, work for everything from content marketing to social media to news releases. Here’s how to write a terrific tip sheet.
October 15, 2019
Reach readers by leading with the benefits, substantiating with the features
It’s not about your product, program or promotion If you’re giving away a trip to Las Vegas, that’s your headline.
Oct. 08, 2019
Instead, telegraph a secondary angle in this key piece of display copy
Scrub the decks: Don’t repeat the headline in the deck. (Or, if you’re a rockstar like The New York Times, the kicker.)
September 24, 2019
When it comes to paragraphs, shorter’s better
How long is too long? If you want people to read your message, take a tip from The New York Times, and keep paragraphs short.
September 17, 2019
Concrete leads are the price of entry for feature articles
Show, don’t tell: Turn ideas into things in your feature story leads.
September 10, 2019
Anecdotes make great feature leads
Tell a tale: When writing features stories rather than breaking news, set the tone with anecdotal leads.
September 03, 2019
Make your sound bite sound like a real person is talking
He said, she said: How do you make that quote from your VP sound like a real person said it?
August 27, 2019
Stop quoting every VP
Don’t quote every VP: To avoid overquoting, put a quota on quotes, paraphrase, curate quotes — even leave them out altogether.
August 20, 2019
Your job is to change behavior, not to report news
Breaking news: Your job isn’t to report news; it’s to change behavior. So why are you running a newsroom?
August 13, 2019
Steal writing tips from the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People
The art of persuasion: Dale Carnegie taught hundreds of thousands of folks — from the highest executive to the lowest car salesman — the psychology of persuasion.
August 06, 2019
Write to length — first time, every time — with story structure
Map out a plan: Spend a few minutes upfront organizing your piece, and you’ll save hours later agonizing over it.
July 30, 2019
The reader is always the topic
The best way to write attention-grabbing press release leads? Forget summary lead paragraphs and inverted pyramids.
July 23, 2019
How to research for article, blog post writing
Research project: How do you find relevant material for blog posts, web pages, intranet articles and e-zines?
July 16, 2019
BBC’s heads are short, clear, front-loaded and context-free
The world at a glance: The BBC’s headlines encapsulate the world’s news in an average of 34 characters each.
July 09, 2019
Work with, not against, your brain
Feel stuck? Maybe you need a better writing routine.
July 02, 2019
They don’t; so make web pages scannable
How do people read online? They don’t read; they skim. So write skimmable web copy.
June 25, 2019
Overcome these PR challenges to get the word out
Journalists receive more than 50 releases a day. How can you overcome the overload to get the word out via media relations?
June 18, 2019
Write about the reader, not about us and our stuff
Avoid crumpled-paper syndrome: Freewriting helps you get words on the page.
June 11, 2019
Let it flow in Step 2 of the writing process
Avoid crumpled-paper syndrome: Freewriting helps you get words on the page.
June 04, 2019
Understand the reach and power of the No. 1 marketing channel on the planet
The right stuff: Email gets a 4300% ROI, according to the DMA. How are you using this power tool in your marketing campaigns?
May 28, 2019
The first step of the writing process is prewriting
Game plan: Spend less time worrying about grammar, spelling and punctuation. Start the writing process with prewriting instead.
May 21, 2019
Reach audience members regardless of their literacy level
May 14, 2019
Reach smartphone users by understanding these stats
Which of these statistics surprised you most? How do you plan to overcome this obstacle when writing for the web?
May 07, 2019
Make your message as readable as this popular news site
Read all over: How does your readability stand up against the third most popular online news site? Benchmark your message to find out.
April 30, 2019
3 steps to writing better, easier & faster
The writing process, step by step: To write better, easier and faster, break your work into three stages of the writing process: pre writing, free writing and rewriting.
April 23, 2019
To tighten your story, tighten your story angle
Sharp focus: Here’s an idea: Have a point!
April 16, 2019
Clicking vs. scrolling for the mobile web
Index cards or toilet paper? What’s the right web page length? Should you write more shorter pages for clickers? Or fewer longer pages for scrollers?
April 09, 2019
U.S., global literacy rates terrible and falling
Light reading: Researchers in the world’s largest adult literacy study have dropped the top level of literacy. Why? Because too few people in the world can read at the 11th grade level to count.
April 02, 2019
4 ways to make your e-zine type letter-perfect
But can they read it? Of all the aspects of email design, choosing the right font might be the most important. You don’t have to be a type designer to choose a font designed to speed reading, increase persuasion — even reduce irritation.
March 26, 2019
Don’t get eaten alive by the approval process
Dun dun … dun dun: Of all the business processes in your organization, the approval process is most likely to be broken. Here are three ways to fix it.
March 19, 2019
Use the active voice in writing
I like to move it, move it: It’s one of the best writing tips I know. In any kind of business writing, write about people doing things.
March 12, 2019
Avoid losing readers in these hot spots
They can’t heeear you: Arousing fear can backfire if you don’t offer a simple solution for controlling risk. This four-part persuasive message model motivates behavior by overcoming that obstacle.
March 05, 2019
Credit union communicator nails the feature structure
Blog writing structure simplified: Take these steps to organize a more attention-getting blog post.
February 26, 2019
How to use Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning Fog indexes
Measure up: Use readability formulas like the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Gunning Fog Index to reach more readers.
February 19, 2019
Why accentuate the negative?
Better sorry than safe? Arousing fear can be more effective than promising rewards at moving people to act.
February 12, 2019
Motivation a key element of storytelling
Make a wish: If your story were a musical, what would your protagonist’s ‘I wish’ song be? That wish is what launches the action of every great story.
February 05, 2019
Sentence length, word length make messages more readable
It takes 2: Want to dramatically improve readability? Focus on the top 2 drivers of reading ease: sentence length and word length.
January 29, 2019
3 steps to a great narrative arc
Tick-tock: How do you organize a good story? With time.
January 22, 2019
Don’t just slap the topic on top of the story
Warning: label: Label headlines communicate the topic — but nothing else — about the story.
January 15, 2019
3 ways to identify the narrative line
Find the moment of truth: For compelling corporate storytelling, find the desk-pounding, or aha! moment.
January 08, 2019
6 writing resolutions to improve your copy in 2019
Here’s to your 2019 writing career: Kick off 2019 right when you ring in the New Year with these writing tips.
January 01, 2019
City communicator increases Flesch Reading Ease by 38.8%
Raise your own readability score: Craft readable text easily with our 5 tips.
December 18, 2018
Leave a lasting impression with these 2 key elements
Tell ’em what you told ’em: End with a bang by writing a good conclusion that includes a wrapup and kicker.
December 11, 2018
‘How we make it’ and four other ways to spot a good story
Why did my husband switch cognacs? Brand storytelling made him do it.
December 06, 2018
Measure, monitor, manage and report readability
Hit the target: Test your clarity with these cool digital tools.
November 27, 2018
‘Make ’em sick, make ’em well’ & 3 other ways to move people to act
Lead the pack: Stand out from the crowd and align readers with your point of view with these persuasive-writing techniques.
November 20, 2018
‘Whoever tells the best story wins’
Why storytelling? Storytelling makes your messages more engaging, easier to understand, easier to believe and more.
November 13, 2018
Irrelevant content No. 1 reason readers unsubscribe
You’ve got mail: In the battle for attention in the inbox, only the most relevant, valuable e-zines and email blasts will survive.
October 23, 2018
Give subscribers the scoop, early insights
Right on time: Timeliness is one of the things subscribers like best about e-zines. So get the word out to your readers — stat!
October 16, 2018
3 ways to get the word out to nonreaders
Pass the squint test: Squint at your newsletter. Can you see the parts?
October 10, 2018
Expand on, but don’t exceed, the subject line
3 keys to e-zine success: 1) Focus. 2) Focus. 3) Focus. Hew to your subject line: Subscribers don’t want you veering off on different topics.
October 02, 2018
Because only 19% of e-zines get read thoroughly
They skim the surface: Mobile readers skim email newsletters 74% of the time; they fully read just 24% of the time.
September 25, 2018
People average 51 seconds on e-zines
What’s the right length? Email newsletters of about 200 words get the greatest click-throughs. So why not write 200-word e-zines?
September 18, 2018
Americans average 16.5 minutes a day
All time low: Americans spend less than 20 minutes a day reading for fun. How much of that time do you think they’re spending on your piece?
September 11, 2018
Check, find & cut long sentences with these Word tools
Check it out: Microsoft Word tools let you check sentence length, find long sentences and cut them into short sentences.
September 04, 2018
Segment lists to nanotarget newsletters, e-blasts
Bespoke content: Segment lists, then use meaningful pieces of data — your recipient’s dog’s name, maybe — to nanotarget readers.
August 28, 2018
Optimize for Alexa, Siri and other digital assistants
Optimize for voice search: Half of all searches will be via voice by 2020, according to comScore. Are your webpages, posts and other pieces optimized for voice?
August 21, 2018
Make Churchill your muse
Word from the wise: Some say Winston Churchill saved the Western world with his words. So why not model your executive quotes after his?
August 14, 2018
Fraction of Selection model shows how readers choose what to read
Is it juicy? Good for me? Easy? Increase your chances that readers will read your message with Wilbur Schramm’s Fraction of Selection model.
August 07, 2018
Try compression of details for PR leads
Main squeeze: Make it juicy with compression of details.
July 31, 2018
It may be the most effective approach
Tick tock: A sense of urgency in subject lines increases opens, click-throughs and readership.
July 24, 2018
Keep news release leads to 25 words or less
They snooze, you lose: “If the copy doesn’t excite me within 20 words, I won’t read the rest of it,” says one editor.
July 17, 2018
Strathcona County masters ‘stack of boxes’ structure
Feature-style story structure is simple: Just stack three boxes.
July 10, 2018
‘They chew gum, don’t they?’
Don’t let irrelevant releases blow up in your face: Journalists’ biggest pet peeve is releases that aren’t relevant to their audiences.
July 03, 2018
Create new terms by merging old ones
A whole new word: Freshly minted words like portmanteaus get more attention than tired coinages.
June 26, 2018
5 ways to activate news release headlines
Away we go: A story is a verb, not a noun. Something should be happening here. Use dynamic verbs in press release headlines.
June 19, 2018
Gain color and insight you can’t get any other way
Just looking: Firsthand observation brings your message to life.
June 12, 2018
Write better, easier & faster with this 5-step system
Brilliant ideas The 5-step creative process helps you work with — not against — your brain to produce dazzling ideas, brighter pieces.
June 05, 2018