readable writing


What are you talking about? Of course my writing’s readable.


It should be to you, after all you wrote it, but what about everyone else? You know what you’re trying to say because it was in your head as you wrote it. The problem is, your ideas could have got muddled on the way to the keyboard.

It might also have something to do with the way you’ve structured things or the type of language you’ve used.

Whatever the problem, the good news is that it’s easily fixable.

But before you can fix it you have to work out where the problem is.

The even better news is that it only takes a few minutes to improve the readability of your writing – here’s how.

A quick guide to readability

The first thing to look at is your sentence structure. It’s good to have a mix of lengths, but on the whole shorter ones are easier to read. As a general rule, if your sentence contains more than one comma break it up.

The same goes for paragraphs. You were probably taught at school not to use single sentence paragraphs – nonsense. They are perfectly acceptable and boost readability. Short paragraphs encourage lots of white space, which makes content look easier to read.

Now we move onto language. The use of jargon, acronyms and industry-speak is a big no-no. Granted, you understand what it means, but that doesn’t mean your reader does.

If you absolutely have to use it make sure you add a definition so the reader knows what you’re talking about.

The way you write will also affect its readability. Writing in an active voice boosts the ease with which your content is read.

In some industries writers have to convey complex ideas. Rather than going into swathes of explanation, try to come up with a short, pithy statement that sums up what you’re talking about. It will make the subject easier to understand and your writing more memorable.

The final thing to remember is to stay focused. It’s very easy to get side tracked, especially when using metaphors to make a point. Keep on track otherwise your readers’ attention will drift off and you’ll have a hard time getting them back.

Why readability is important

Regardless of whether you’re writing a blog, content for a brochure or website copy, it’s essential your ideas come across clearly.

Your reader has to be able to understand what you’re saying if they are going to comprehend it and the tips above will help you make sure that happens.

Next time you write something, take a few minutes to scan through it to make sure you’ve not slipped up anywhere. After all, what’s the point if your reader can’t understand what you’re saying?