Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#11 Writers! 19 Simple Rules for Creating READABLE Copy

Issue #11 —Wednesday, June 19, 2018

Posted by Denny Hatch

         Writers! 19 Simple Rules for Creating READABLE Copy

Why a Majority of People Can't Read What You Write!

1. “The addictive nature of Web browsing can leave you
    with an attention span of 9 seconds—the same as a goldfish.”
    —Dr. Ted Selker, MIT Media Lab

2. “Currently 45 million Americans are functionally illiterate and cannot read above a fifth grade level.” —Literacy Project Foundation

3. “50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.” —Literacy Project Foundation

4. “Lookers are shoppers. Readers are buyers. Engage your prospect through reading and you’re on your way to a sale.” 
    —Malcolm Decker, Freelancer

5.  Communications coins of the realm today are:
• The 160-character text (81% of Americans text regularly according to Pew Research).

• The 280 character tweet, employed by 336 million active Twitter users who send 500million tweets a day.

6. People will read your copy only if it is broken up into bite-sized paragraphs à la Tweets and texts.

7. “Avoid gray walls of type.” —David Ogilvy, Advertising legend
          Atlantic                NY Times Magazine                  New Yorker

8. “Neatness rejects involvement.” —Lew Smith, Agency EVP

9. It is imperative to keep the reader’s eye moving.

10. Ugly works!” —Seattle Marketing guru Bob Hacker

A conspicuously ugly ad by Fred Breismeister, Greystone Press. Note the hand holding the bottom of the book. Fingers move the eye up to the “FREE” arrow and burst: “Yes… Take it FREE!” Ugly stuff. But these devices giddily move the eye around. In the last century, Greystone sold gazillions of books!

11. "An ingenious sequence of boldly displayed crossheds (mini-headlines) can deliver the substance of your entire pitch to glancers who are too lazy to wade through the text." —David Ogilvy

(Note Breismeister's cross-heds/mini-headlines breaking up the two bottom left columns above.)

12. "After two or three inches of copy
 insert your first boldface crosshead—or mini-headline/sub-hed—and thereafter pepper mini-headlines throughout. These mini-headlines should be the same size and font as text, but centered—either underlined or in boldface." 
   —David Ogilvy

14. “Type smaller than 9-point is difficult for most people to read.”
       —David Ogilvy

15. “Never use text reversed out of a dark color or a busy background.” —Ed Elliott, Designer

16. Online readability means line widths should be 50 to 75 characters including spaces. —Christian Holst, Baymard Institute

17. Use black type—never gray or pastels in text or headlines.

18. No sentence longer than 28 words—ever!

19. Short words!
 Short sentences! Short paragraphs!
       —Andrew J. Byrne, Freelancer

What have I left out? If you have additional rules, please initiate and join the discussion below. —DH


Word Count: 439

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