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Do You Write the Way People Like to Read?

May 07 2014

writing laptopIf you want to write the way people like to read, picture yourself reading what you're about to write – on your smartphone.

Half of us read emails on our phones so shape your articles and emails to a smartphone format. These eight tips will keep you on track:

1. Just leap right in and tell me what you have to say. The last person who enjoyed a lengthy introduction was your high school English teacher. She was being paid to read your work.

2. Keep it short and focused on a single, narrow topic. Would you read a blog post about the history of western civilization? Only scintillating news or eye-popping images will lure a viewer to repeatedly scroll down the page.

3. Is what you have to say complicated? Use links to supply more detail and information instead of jamming everything into a single communication.

4. Break your topic into chunks and lay them out for me like an information buffet. Give me subheads so I can skim your content. I'll read the paragraphs that interest me.

5. Format your message to look good on a tiny screen. When you write emails and blogs, picture them being read on a mobile device rather than a sheet of paper or a computer screen. Need help with this one? Write in a Word doc with the margins set 3-inches wide – about the size of a smartphone.

6. Bullets are your friend. Use them any time you have a list of three or more items.

7. Art trumps words. Slide shows, videos and images grab attention more than words. Stories about cute kittens do not go viral.

8. Conclude with a call to action. End with a link or a button to contact you for more information, or to visit your website.

Dona DeZube, chief content officer for HomeActions, has the best job in the world: Writing engaging articles for HomeAction's twice-monthly e-newsletter about home improvement, personal finance, green lifestyles, home energy efficiency, condo living, and getting the most from homeownership.

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