Whenever you’re writing content, readability is really important. If your work is as hard to comprehend as a scientific paper, then who would want to read it?
You’ll have alienated anyone who isn’t a scientist, engineer, or any sort of technically-minded person. To be honest, even those technically-minded people may not want to read your work either! Even these sorts of people are not obsessed with reading technical material. They need a break from all that too.
In case you missed it: Part 1 of improving your content’s readability
When it comes to web content, people usually don’t pay attention to content that requires a lot of mental stretching. There are lots of alternatives, after all. Cyberspace is a highly competitive place, and if your content doesn’t measure up, then you’ll be left behind in a split second.
Thus, if you want people to pay attention, put some good readability to your writing with these three tips.
Don’t make your sentences too long
Remember back in the day, when authors were too fond of themselves and wrote in such lengthy, overly complicated sentences that the structure of the sentences made it very hard – and quite confusing as well – to comprehend?
Notice how long that sentence was. Yes, it’s just one sentence. If you thought it was one paragraph already, then you’ve found the problem. The sentence is far too long to comprehend in a heartbeat.
Also notice how boring it looks. If this entire article were structured that way, would you still like to read it? I suppose not. A big part of readability is managing your sentences into chunks that are easier on the eyes.
Look at how much better it would be if we split the long sentence into shorter ones:
Remember back in the day, when authors would always write in very long sentences? They were so fond of themselves that they like to write that way. It ends up being very hard to understand, and confusing as well.
Three sentences. Now that’s a paragraph. And it’s much easier to read and comprehend. That’s the idea behind readability.
Use Jargon with Caution
Everyone working in a specific niche is guilty of this. Just because you’re so used to niche-specific terms and abbreviations, it doesn’t mean everyone else understands them. Let alone people from other fields of interest.
For example, the abbreviation PR.
It’s just two letters, but it has very different definitions depending on who’s reading it. For corporate people, PR means public relations. But for fitness enthusiasts, PR means Personal Record (e.g. number of push-ups done in one session).
Readability is also about being easily comprehensible. So when you’re writing for a wide audience, avoid jargon as much as you can. If you can explain something without using industry-specific terms, then do so. Again, it’s a blog, not a white paper. Save the jargon for the more technical publications.
And if you must use jargon, make sure your readers understand it first. The first time you’ll use the term “PR”, for example, define it clearly. If you’re writing a fitness blog, then mention that PR stands for “personal record”. This way, readers from the corporate world won’t confuse your PR with their PR.
Simplify the complex
More often than not, you’ll be writing about things specific to your niche. Another huge part of readability is translating complex details into simpler bits and pieces. It’s like teaching science to a five-year old: you have to turn the scientific terms into everyday language, so your five-year old student would understand everything you say.
Tell you what, there’s even a section in the Reddit forums called Explain Like I’m 5. The idea is to explain complicated things – like scientific theories, economics concepts, business principles, and many more – in such a way that everyone will understand. If a five-year-old can understand your explanation of why lightning strikes, for instance, then everyone else can understand it.
Simplification doesn’t have to be “dumbing it down”.
It really isn’t; rather, it’s more like using a different language to explain a complicated concept. Have you ever heard of the quip, “in English, please”? Yes, you are using English to explain something, but the words sound so complicated that other people think you’re speaking another language.
So take their advice. Write in plain English, and more people will take interest in what you have to say.
If you’re looking for alternative forms of content to write, check out this infographic on different types of content you can make.
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