Two easy secrets for more readable prose

Workshop instructor Ann Wylie says your readers don’t comprehend your writing as well as you may think. Here’s how to remedy that.

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First, the bad: People don’t read as well as you or your bosses think they do.

“Executives and the people who approve our copy believe that readers will wade through whatever we put down on paper,” said Wylie of Wylie Communications, in addressing attendees of her session at the International Association of Business Communicators World Conference on Wednesday. “We all know that’s not true.”

The good news? Communicators can access lots of free online tools—StoryToolz, for example—to improve the readability of what they write. They just have to know what to look for.

“If we make our copy easier to read—this is such a shock—more people will read it,” Wylie said.

Grim realities

Communicators often think that hitting the “publish” button means they’ve done their job, but publishing something that isn’t easily understandable means you aren’t actually communicating. And Wylie pointed out that for many readers “understandable” means something pretty basic.

“Literacy is way worse than you think, all over the world,” she said.

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