6 TIPS FOR IMPROVING READABILITY

Did you know that 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an 8th grade level.

50% of people can’t read well enough to read prescription drug labels.

775 million people are illiterate worldwide.

And that 45 million of these people live in America!

The fact is that today most of us can’t read anything more complicated that a Tweet.

The addictive nature of the internet has left us with the attention spans of goldfish.

This means your copy needs to be extremely easy to read.

There a few things you can do to achieve this.

1. Avoid large blocks of text.

Break your writing up into dozens of bite sized paragraphs.

2. Use headlines and sub headlines.

These should be bolded so they stick out. Also keep them short. No more than one line and only a few words.

3. The font you use is also important.

Sans serif fonts are best because they are easiest to read. Your font should also be bigger than 9 points. Anything smaller is too difficult to read.

4. Keep your paragraphs short.

Especially your opening paragraphs. They should be a maximum of eleven words. You can help readers into paragraphs by using arrowheads and asterisks. Also use bullet points and lists where you can.

5. Break up the monotony of long copy by using boldface and italic.

Illustrations, pictures, and text boxes are also great for breaking up copy.

6. The number of words in your sentences is also important. Here’s a quote I once saw.

“Tests have shown that a sentence of eight words is very easy to read; of 11 words, easy; of 14 words, fairly easy; of 17 words, standard; of 21 words, fairly difficult; of 25 words, difficult; of 29 or more words, very difficult; so this sentence with 54 words, counting numbers, is ranked impossible.”

Any sentence longer than 29 words should be split up.

The basic rule of thumb is this:

Use short words…

Short sentences…

…and short paragraphs.

These are the keys to improving readability…

Increasing response…

…and getting people to actually read what you write.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton