Speaking to writing

Writing the way we speak is a good start. It tends to make our copy appropriate and chatty. Most of us wisely take out the ums and the errs. But we do lots of other things when we speak that do not translate well into writing and these should be deleted too. Just like the […]

Journalism: truth vs the big story

Journalists miss the truth, too often, because they seduce themselves into writing the story that readers want to read. Journalism is about truth, right? The whole point of it is to report what’s going on in the world, and if we make stuff up, it rather defeats the object. In the internet age, truth has […]

Writing visually

People process visual information (pictures, colours, layout) instinctively and quickly. We had to learn how to read and so generally we do that only after we have made judgments about how useful a piece of information looks. Often users only take in a few words before giving up. The reasons are varied, but they amount […]

Seek out and destroy the comma

A good piece of writing has few commas. If you use few commas, it indicates you are writing well. Among other things, a limited use of commas, to all intents and purposes, suggests the writer knows what they are doing. Only the first of these sentences is always true. You can tell because it contains […]

The importance of why

Their increasingly poor attention spans mean readers think “so what?” unless you explain to them why they should care, right at the start. When you tell a story, you shouldn’t just say what is happening and who it’s happening to but also why it’s happening. Google co-founder Larry Page is to become chief executive of […]

The science of writing

Spanish researchers, performing fMRI scans on readers, have found that words like perfume and coffee light up the parts of the brain we use for smell. This link between the verbal and physical sensation is no accident. These links offer a round-up of the science of writing: Your brain on fiction – New York Times […]

Web writing for the skimmer

Get right to the point and make your web writing more effective Almost nobody reads from left to right, top to bottom any more. Most of us skim. We are trying to get as much information as we can for as little effort as we can get away with. Here is an article I didn’t […]