When you take the time to write – whether it’s a blog post, a prospecting letter, or even a property description – you want people to read it. After that you want them to understand it and be motivated to act.
But the first task is getting them started on the first sentence.
You already know about Rule #1 – Never begin with “I” or “We.” So let’s go on to what I’ll call Rule #2 – Make it look inviting.
That means using a reasonable font size and breaking your paragraphs into small bites. Small print and long paragraphs look like encyclopedia entries – or dry text book pages. You know, the things we read only if we really want the information – or need to learn it to pass a course.
If the font is small and paragraphs are long, the reader has to be pre-motivated and interested in the topic to even begin reading.
After that, reading ease comes into play.
Just this morning I forced myself to read an Active Rain post that looked like a textbook entry. In addition to the small fonts and long paragraphs, it was crammed with long words – many of them that could easily have been replaced with short words. For instance, “We utilize” could have been “We use.”
Words like “discerning, proactive, instrumental, and empowered” probably don’t belong in a piece aimed at consumers.
It’s likely that everyone here in the Rain could understand the whole post, but writing in that manner is a poor habit for anyone who needs to appeal to the general public.
We’ve talked many times about striving for a 7th grade reading level – or less. When I checked that post, the grade level was 13.3.
And that brings me to the reason for this post – I found somewhere to check the grade level!
My old Word program had a button right there – it was easy to check grade level and reading ease with just one click. The new one doesn’t have it.
So today I went searching and found https://readability-score.com/. That one gave me an instant answer and included plenty of information on word length, paragraph length, etc.
Then I found http://www.thewriter.com/what-we-think/readability-checker/, which demanded my email address and then rejected it. I suppose they wanted me to sign up for an account.
I didn’t want to do that, so didn’t get their score. However, the rest of the page had good advice about how the scores are compiled. If your writing includes several long, easily recognized and understood words (elephant, for instance), it might score a higher grade level, but it will still be just fine for the average reader. They also point out that there are times when a long sentence with a few commas is easier to understand and flows better than several short, choppy sentences.
Do pay attention to the grade level. If you’re up there at college level, make some changes. But if the level is 8 or 10 and you can see that all the words and sentences could be easily read by the average 7th grader, don’t worry about it.
P.S. In my search for checkers, I came across instructions for accessing it on Word, and it does work. You just have to go through all of their suggestions for correcting grammar errors before it pops up.
If you haven’t already found it, go to file, click on options, then on proofing. Scroll down the page and you’ll find a box you can check to show grade level and reading ease.
Image courtesy of tiniroma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net