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Cut out excess words

"Never Be Boring" Communication Tip #2

Which is easier to read?

“When you are using batteries and they stop working, it is very important to protect the environment as much as you can by finding a safe way to recycle them, but you should not just throw them into the recycling bin without preparation. You have to tape both ends so they will not leak toxic materials into the environment.”


“Recycle batteries safely.

Protect the environment and stay safe by taping both battery terminals before recycling. Discarded batteries can leak toxic materials.”

I cut out more than half the words in Version 2. Isn't it much easier to read?

The more words, the harder for readers to understand.

I KNOW every word you’ve written is important.

I KNOW readers will not understand unless you say everything. Believe me, I’ve heard it repeatedly.

But they’re more likely to understand fewer words.

Readers understand 90% of 14-word sentences.
Comprehension drops to 10% when the sentence is 43 words (like the first sentence above).

Sentences of 11 words are easy to read. But 25-word sentences are difficult.

Most people read only 25% of your content.

You’d better get the information to them quickly!

My passion is making language easy to read and understand. We’re all busy people and most of us don’t read every single word.

Do your reader a favor: look at every sentence and rewrite it using fewer words.

Stay tuned for my next "Never Be Boring" communication tip!

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I help professional services companies avoid BORING by making communications painless and boosting employee engagement, productivity, and brand recognition. I turn lackluster, jargon-filled or technical prose into clear dynamic narrative.

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