One side thought: Although many Copyblogger posts are driving home the same messages, repetition is crucial in making the messages stick. Everytime I read a new post, I get some new ideas to work on. Great list of tips to keep us all focused. For those of us that had to write huge papers in high school and college, writing so that most people can understand and enjoy does not come naturally.
Keep things short, interesting and to the point. Love this! Your first point is great. Have something worthwhile to say. You know your point. You get it across. Job well done. But a bigger issue for me is trying to balance writing for attorneys with good blogging. I guess it means I must juggle 2 writing styles to blog well and satisfy my clients.
Thanks for the tips, timely as always! I would hate for them to slip in to everyday conversation! Great tips Dean. Thanks for posting. It is sometimes hard not to use big words to describe something… It can be quicker and more precise to use technical jargon and fancy words but you do have to get your message across to your reader, who may not have the depth of your vocabulary.
WillieHewes — My gripe with passive voice is that it usually hurts clarity. I swear that its grammar checker draws immense pleasure from harassing me about passive voice. I gripe, but my rewrite is usually much clearer. Maybe your word processing software has a similar torture-the-writer option.
Fantastic tips. He covers a lot of these tips, actually. Thanks Dean, your words have ignited a spark of responses hungry for simplified expression. Me too as I struggle to find ways to describe the way something looks.. Its an awesome article. I have been struggling to write these simple words and explain correctly. Now, I have some idea and hopefully I will use on my website. I have been writing a website on Nepal with lots of helpful informations.
If you guys could help me how to simplify my writing visiting my website that would be awesome. Holy crap! Love the tips, but I am not reading all these comments. I love number 7. Eliminate the fluff. Cut it out. Chop it up. Anything that can help us keep it simple, make it more readable and get our message across is a good lesson to learn.
Damn good! Maybe in the next version. One of the other advantages of the Write — Wait — Edit approach is that you will discover words that have been left out and should be there to complete a sentence. The missing words are in your head when you write the article and when you review it right after writing. The missing words are no longer in your head when you come back later to review and edit the article. Leaving the text and coming back later is a trick that I swear by. I also read text out loud to spot errors.
Good writing tips here. I do have a tendency of getting a little long winded some times. How do you like Thesis? Especially timely as I write monthly blogs and website articles for clients, as well as myself. This will help me give them better value. Excellent post Dean. The idea is to welcome readers and let them know that we are just as ordinary as any other person. This is an interesting study. However, this seems to be stating the obvious.
Overusing complex terminology and vague adjectives definitely alienates the average reader. Technical vernacular is appropriate for trade journals and other professional publication but vague adjectives always make the writer seem less credible.
I am a journalism student at the University of Kansas and these are the types writing guideline that were drilled into our brains during the first research and writing class we were required to take. All these guidelines are basic AP and inverted pyramid news writing styles. Nevertheless, it is nice to see one scientific field provide legitimacy to the practices of another. I agree.
In a vaccum, words mean nothing. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent and articulate person. But when I read academic articles and journals I typically find them full of words that seem designed to confuse. So a really useful application of these basic rules would be in academic papers. Encourage understanding rather than show how clever you are.
These are some very good tips. Thank for the tips, there are many people like me who are not the best at writing but we still want to express ourselves. An important trick I see some great writers use is rhythm. They use words like a paint brush and are able make something boring or difficult easier to read.
I compare to a photograph of an ugly person wearing a nice shirt. Simply brilliant. Reading this was so refreshing…Thanks for the great content. I try to use the simplest word that exactly fits the situation. Use a large word when it suits the purpose better than a short word or a brief phrase. Use the larger word when it will be understood by your audience at least as readily as-a-bunch-of-small-words-piled-up-in-a-three-high-traffic-accident-just-before-the-full-stop.
As time passes by we become aware of the mistakes what we do commonly and try to correct it to improvise ourselves. The word fat is a perfectly good one, but when it is hijacked by neo-puritans, with the implication that slimness equates to virtue, we are on dangerous ground.
I endorse this completely. This stuff is what I teach my essay writing students. I wonder if all these are applicable to writing marketing copy. Brilliant tips! These impart a lot of confidence into people like me, who would want to try a hand at writing a blog. I love to write……simple.
Somewhere inside I always hated looking into the dictionary while reading books. And that was probably the reason why I could never remember long words. When I started with content writing job, I realized that: at least on the web, nobody is going to sit with a dictionary to understand my text. I only use longer synonyms of any simple word when the word itself has been already used. I, as a reader also, want to read and understand a sentence in an instant….
The way to limit your audience to those who can barely drool is to continually accommodate the least literate of them. As we have seen on the internet, that bar continually gets lower and lower. All you have to do is find a line of fools, blow a whistle to get their attention, then walk away, dropping marshmallows behind you.
Yes, you will gain the less literate … but it will come at the expense of the more literate who generally have more disposable income. Look at the ads for luxury automobiles. They generally have a few VERY well chosen words. You will not become a better writer by abandoning your craft and aiming for the bottom of the pile. You become a better writer by mastering your craft and aiming at any part of the pile you choose.
The tips above strike a chord. I love to read anything that neatly describes what I already believe, but failed to put into words myself. All these rules basically work together — if you use one, often times, the rest will follow. For example, if you work on 4. Use can sound bland whereas utilize, if you ask me, falls under step 2 of being specific — utilize paints a more descriptive image for the reader. Other than that, I think these 11 tips are simple and completely on target.
And better yet, they apply to all forms or writing: blogs, memos, letters, documents, anything. I have always struggled with keeping my writing concise and clear. Your post offers some great advice to students like me who are looking for ways to work on their writing. Thanks for these tips. Remembering these tips can really help writers stand out, as you have described. Thanks again! Good tips. Now if I could just get my clients to read this and follow your advice.
Keep it simple and edit, edit, edit. Well written. Thanks for the post! This is a great article. I was taught English as a second language. These tips are really helpful. Dean, I am agree with all of your views. As non-native speaker, we sometimes tend to use some complex, unusual and metaphoric words to make our writing so-called standard…But simplicity is the most powerful way in every step of our life… A must-read post… Thanks! Shoot it down if you can. Of those portions of the world who speak English, many of them speak it only as a second tongue, a language of necessity.
It has to do with English speaking people having money and guns and a willingness to use one whenever the other fails to achieve the desired results. Those who read your material in their native language will bring a sense of gratitude and pride to the reading.
This can result in sales that would have otherwise been missed. Simple words, short sentences will keep the readers coming back. Keep it short. Editing may be harder than writing. Read my blog, The Pragmatic Marketer for insights and tips. Excellent tips to be mindful of.
Sometimes I tend to write sentences too long. I can see the gist of writing small sentences. I find your advice useful. The article itself followed the rules you outlined. Some fantastic tips in this article especially the passive voice , this is a mistake I always make in writing ,Thank you for sharing. Also — notice the single quotes around the words? Double quotes are for quotations, not emphasis. And, yeah, bold would be better still. Oh, gee! Look at the time! I think it all depends on context, though.
IMHO, big words can make you seem smarter, if you slip them in amidst a bunch of smaller ones. Not the use of big words. Anyway, thanks for this great article. Brevity is not my strong point. I like long sentences. A lot. I have to resist the urge to use them quite often. Maybe this time the advice will go to heart. This was overall a very informative article, but I must disagree with you over the title of that study you cited.
I should have read this before I started writing and blogging. Now i know exactly what to do and forget about high sounding words that always make me freak out before I even go half way of my articles. I thought and many people think too that using big words is the way to effective writing. Thank you for a very informative article that writers could use to improve their writing. I have always used simple words in my copy. But at times you risk being labelled as someone with a limited vocabulary.
Cannot help but use some big words to make the seemingly mundane copy better. My argument has always been that even if you can understand all those big words, do you want to wade through them? Okay, time for a difference of opinion. I ask you all to truly think about this. You say we should all use smaller words, less complex words.
Well then, why even have those big words in the dictionary if no one uses them? We might as well make our dictionaries simpler if our vocabularies are going to be so. But in the process, I feel, something terrible happens, our lives become a little less rich. So what if novel makes use of big words? This in turn has enlivened my vocabulary and made my life all the more richer and fulfilling. We should have the intelligence to learn new words, the mental comprehension to do so.
Next issue I have with this article, the need to always write short sentences and never to ramble. Again, why? Some of the greatest literature is incredibly wordy. It rambles on and on. Some people hate, I admit it. The same goes for Great Expectations. These books, though wordy, allow to really reflect inner-thoughts in a way I have found very meaningful. Books with loads of description, like Lord of the Rings, with tons of sentences, going into detail descriptions on the lands alone, allow me immerse myself in the fantasy land that Tolkien has created, something I find fantasy books with shorter descriptions have not allowed me to do so.
There is a poetry to some of these long-winded novels, a beauty. As I said before, straight to the point novels with little description and smaller words are not bad novels. They can be very good novels. But wanting every novel to be written like that smacks of something the fast food generation wants, something called instant gratification. They want results now, they want their food now. Sometimes I wonder if there is a correlation to the fast food generation to people wanting their novels always simple and straight to the point.
I ask you all to think it over. Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to primary sidebar. Do you sound smarter when you use big words? Here are 11 ways you can start sounding brilliant: 1. Have something to say This makes writing easier and faster. Read widely. Take notes. Choose your subjects wisely. Then share your information with readers.
Be specific Consider two sentences: I grow lots of flowers in my back yard. I grow 34 varieties of flowers in my back yard, including pink coneflowers, purple asters, yellow daylilies, Shasta daisies, and climbing clematis. Which is more interesting? Which helps you see my back yard? Choose simple words Write use instead of utilize , near instead of close proximity , help instead of facilitate , for instead of in the amount of , start instead of commence.
Use longer words only if your meaning is so specific no other words will do. For example: Passive sentences bore people. For example: People are bored by passive sentences. Keep paragraphs short Look at any newspaper and notice the short paragraphs. Eliminate fluff words Qualifying words, such as very , little , and rather , add nothing to your meaning and suck the life out of your sentences. For example: It is very important to basically avoid fluff words because they are rather empty and sometimes a little distracting.
Put your reader first. Put yourself in the background. Focus on the message. For example: You can instantly and dramatically improve your blog writing skills and immediately explode your profits and skyrocket your online success by following the spectacular, simple, and practical tips found in this groundbreaking new free blog post.
Edit ruthlessly Shorten, delete, and rewrite anything that does not add to the meaning. To make this easier, break your writing into three steps: Write the entire text. Set your text aside for a few hours or days. Return to your text fresh and edit. Stop overthinking. Jot down one idea at a time. Write a little bit every day. Make notes in your phone. Transfer your notes to your computer regularly.
Pause conversations to capture interesting anecdotes. Add interesting anecdotes to conversations. Monitor how people react. Research fascinating topics. Brainstorm the best way to approach a topic. Look for fresh angles. Listen to a podcast related to your topic. Watch a video related to your topic. Schedule time to write at your desk. Clean your desk. Know your audience. Practice choosing the right words. Outline your main points.
Experiment with how you structure your writing. Draft many headlines. Craft intriguing subheadlines. Use effective bullet points. Study other authors. Create a messy draft. Begin with what you are ready to write—a plan, a few sentences or bullet points. Start with the body and work paragraph by paragraph. Write the introduction and conclusion after the body. Once you know what your essay is about, then write the introduction and conclusion. Use 'signpost' words in your writing. Transition signals can help the reader follow the order and flow of your ideas.
Integrate your evidence carefully. Introduce quotations and paraphrases with introductory phrases. Revise your first draft extensively. Make sure the entire essay flows and that the paragraphs are in a logical order. Put the essay aside for a few days. This allows you to consider your essay and edit it with a fresh eye. Academic Skills Referencing. Essay and assignment writing. Essay and assignment planning. Answering assignment questions. Engineering and science. Other links and resources.
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