Sometimes, being precise and straight to the point is the best way to be when it comes to writing. Nowadays, our screens and content, both on and offline, are dominated by written words. In a world where attention spans can sometimes surprisingly surpass a few seconds if you’re writing web content, you need to grab your reader, and fast.
Plain English is the way forward, so to give you a helping hand on how to incorporate it into your content, use these six handpicked tricks and tips below.
Keep Your Sentences Short
Always aim for a maximum of 20 words per sentence. This ensures your sentences are short, easy to read and make sense to the vast majority of your readers. By writing in shorter sentences, you eliminate the risk of miscommunication and create an impact on your readers. It’s good to mix it up sometimes, however.
This is the opposite of passive voice. Passive voice sentences are boring, difficult to read and can be off-putting extremely quickly. Instead, try incorporating active voice into your content. This means you should always be typing out your sentences for your web content in the same way as you would speak them out loud. This is why you should always proofread and edit aloud, so you can catch the sentences that make no sense.
Not everybody is born to be a natural writer and it can take time to develop your skills until they are perfect. To give you a hand, here is a list of a couple of readily available online tools that can make your writing tasks easier.
- Easy Word Count – Keep your content short and to the point with this free online tool that allows you to easily track your word counts.
- Cite It In – Add professional style references and citations to your web pages.
- State Of Writing – A free online resource where you can develop your skills and learn from useful educational guides.
Always remember that you’re writing for your reader. You’re not writing for you or for your business; you’re writing what your reader wants to hear. Always remember that your reader is a person. Write in a conversational tone, connect with your readers on a professional yet emotional level and really make it as though your website is talking to your reader. This will give them a personal insight into your business that they won’t be able to ignore.
The internet is full of links and directions that you can so easily end up somewhere that leaves you thinking “How did I get here?” People, especially your readers, no matter how much they want to believe otherwise, are followers. Tell them what to do and 99% of the time, they will. On the internet, this is known as a call-to-action.
Calls-to-action are very important and will help you increase your sales and web traffic. For example, instead of saying ‘please sign up to my email newsletter’, say “click here and sign up today.” People are much more susceptible than you realize.
Headings & Lists
The final point for writing in Plain English is to keep things organised and nicely spaced out. This means using headers (like in this article) to space out your points or using lists, such as bullet point lists, to quickly and efficiently get across all the key points of information without having to elaborate on each individual point.
About the Author:
Mary Walton is a professional editor. She helps ESL students improve English writing skills online.