Here are 7 guidelines to follow if you want to give your writing the best chance of getting read.
2) Get to the point quickly. News reporters use what's called the "inverted pyramid" to tell the story. In other words, they put the most important and most interesting stuff first, then fill out the details later on. That's how they manage to grab a busy reader. Take a look at your own writing and ask if the first part of your article is really necessary, or is it just "throat clearing"?
3) Cut out unnecessary words. Take another tip from news writing, where there's no space wasted on words that don't earn their keep. Use the right word in the right place and delete any that aren't pulling their weight. You'll make your writing much snappier, easier to read and more engaging.
4) Spend a lot of time on your headline. It's your headline that sells the article underneath, so don't rush writing it. Make sure your headline gives people a reason to read. If your article is there to help the reader, use the headline to telegraph how it helps. If you are writing about something unusual or fascinating, put this tidbit of information out there in the headline. Choose words that arouse interest, that make people say, "I've got to read that."
5) Break your text up with subheads. A page full of text is intimidating. So break it up into sections, with each section having its own mini-headline. If you think about the structure of your sections carefully, you'll be able to tell the story of the article with the subheads alone, giving busy readers an overview of the content in a few seconds. See also some great tips here - they're about blogs but relate also to newsletter articles.
6) Use bullets and sidebars or panels. An article doesn't have to be just linear text. If some aspects of the article stand alone, pull them out and put them in a panel. If something is better presented in list form (like this article), then use bullets or a numbered list.
7) Write like you speak. Don't think you need to write formally once you commit finger to keyboard. Use the kind of language you'd use when talking to a friend and don't be afraid to break rules of grammar if these rules get in the way of clarity (which they sometimes do).
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