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Readability: Easy Ways to Write for Your Readers

April 24, 2020 - john

Writing for your readers forms the crux of online content. While bloggers and SEO experts will wax lyrical about using subheadings, images, lists and other techniques there is one area that is often overlooked.

Readability.

Readability does what it says on the tin. It’s the ability to read your piece of writing. This takes into account a whole host of factors, from the length of your sentences to word choice. The easier it is to read your piece, the more users you can target with your copy. 

Readability is often misunderstood as ‘dumbing down’ content. This simply isn’t true. It’s about communicating effectively in a clear way without verbose wording. Much like Hemmingway, Carver, and Stephen King economy of line is the most powerful tool in your writing arsenal. Here are some winning ways to streamline your content. 

Strategies to Improve your Readability

Simple Words

Use simple, well-known words. Writers love to show off a bit of creative flourish. While you may want to use a little-known term or alliterative descriptor it’s best to stick to words that most people know. Remember that not all readers have the same understanding of English as you so consider people from different backgrounds when writing.

Simple Sentences

Like words, sentences can also benefit from being shortened. Short sentences are punchier and more direct. What’s more, using complex sentences and compound sentences can be difficult to follow and confuse readers. 

Avoid Modifiers

Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Think of modifiers as a seasoning. A little bit goes a long way. Packing sentences with modifiers can also make your text look less professional. Consider your audience. Most of us live on the go and want information as soon as possible. Burying important facts in lines of modifiers can aggravate readers leading to a higher bounce rate and poor conversion rate. 

Stay Away from Jargon

Don’t use jargon. While it can’t be helped in some sectors, such as legal advice, try to stay away from using jargon as much as possible. Understandable content is key to driving traffic to your site and even the most experienced industry expert appreciates honest to goodness communication over cringy jargon. 

Choose a Legible Typeface

One area often overlooked is the typeface. Use a legible font that is easy to scan. Fonts with lots of effects and flourishes may look cool but they can be difficult for people with conditions such as dyslexia. Go for something clean, has even spacing between letters, and distinct lettering that is easy to understand. 

Break up Text

Break up your copy with subheadings, lists, and other small chunks. Large walls of text can be daunting, especially to mobile users so make sure to use subheadings and smaller paragraphs to make navigation quicker and easier. 

Test your Writing

Last but not least, run your copy through readability score formulas. While not perfect, these programs give you an idea of the reading level you need to write for. Some programs point out sentences that can be simplified as well as simpler word alternatives. If you’re looking for free apps then Grammarly and the Hemingway app are great places to start. 

There are several readability formulas worth looking into including;

  • Automated Readability Index
  • Coleman-Liau Index
  • Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning-Fog Score
  • SMOG Index

While these indices have different scoring systems they all aim for a basic high school level. This average makes your writing accessible to most people without limiting creativity and complexity. 

These are just a few of the ways you can write for your readers. Take your time with content and tailor it to your users’ needs. Investing in readability now makes your content engaging and evergreen. 

Do you need a hand with your blog writing or readability? Maybe you’d like us to shake up your website and increase your conversion rate. Whatever you have in mind, contact Fifteen Design today. We’ll help you develop a campaign that your users will be talking about for years to come.

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