Clear writing is of the utmost importance to properly engage your audience of interest. Say you are a blogger or a distance educator or trainer utilizing an LMS platform, unclear content may discourage reader or student participation. If you are a doctor or pharmacist, medical equipment manufacturer, or any other healthcare professional that delivers critical information, unclear content could have life-threatening consequences. Whether you are using a blog, LMS platform, or any other method to deliver content online, follow these six steps to improve the readability of your content. Reduce reader misunderstandings today!
1. Utilize Short Sentences and Simple Words.
- Try to keep each sentence under 20 words (Child, 2017; Rakt, 2016). 8-11 Word sentences are optimal for information retention (Child, 2017). If a long sentence is unavoidable, limit one long sentence for each paragraph. Use simple words. In English, words should be under four syllables (Rakt, 2016).
2. Utilize Transition Words.
- Examples of transition words are: as, like, and, also, equally, similarly, furthermore, additionally, moreover, likewise, instead, whereas, despite, conversely, otherwise, however, rather, although, while, regardless, if, because, namely, chiefly, firstly, secondly, thirdly, especially, and certainly (Rakt, 2016). Transition words connect sentences and direct readers toward the most important information (Rakt, 2016).
3. Utilize Perfect Punctuation and Grammar.
- Improper grammar and punctuation leads to misunderstandings (e.g., vague pronouns with no clear referent are confusing) (“How to improve,” n.d.). Reduce reader errors with correct punctuation and grammar (“How to improve,” n.d.).
4. Adopt the Active Voice.
- Sentences of the passive voice are longer and more difficult to understand (“How to improve,” n.d.).
5. Lean into Lists.
- Integrate lists to focus reader attention to main points (Child, 2017). Lists often make procedural content clearer and more concise (Child, 2017).
6. Integrate Images, Charts, and Videos.
- Videos, Infographics, and other images are visually stimulating and may represent information in a more concise, memorable way (Child, 2017). Video tutorials, in particular, may be a vital component to understanding new procedures or processes (Child, 2017).
Child, D. (2017, August 29). 8 ways to improve readability in healthcare. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://readable.io/blog/8-ways-to-improve-readability-in-healthcare/
How to improve the readability of anything you write. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://readabilityformulas.com/articles/how-to-improve-the-readability-of-anything-you-write.php
Rakt, M. V. D. (2016, March 29). 5 tips to write readable blog posts. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://yoast.com/5-tips-improve-readability-blog-post/