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Writing: Shorter is Better

Writing: Shorter is Better

Think about this quote:

"I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter."

- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

We are inundated with information. People are starved for time and as such they greatly respect and value short correspondence, articles and blog posts.

If you want people to read something, make it short and concise. A paragraph that runs five sentences long is daunting and there is a good chance that the reader will not read it.


Here Are Some Suggestions:

1. Use short words.

They are easier to understand - so use simple English even if it offends your sense of literacy.

2. Use dashes to shorten up a sentence.

Most readers are not grammatical experts and value sentences that are more in line with the way they speak - so use dashes to make the message clear.

3. Use bullet points and numbered paragraphs.

They keep the message clear and organized in our minds.

4. Use plenty of space.

The more white background space on the page, the easier it is to read the black text. Double spacing text is easier to read than single spacing.


If you're reading a magazine and an article is six pages of text, you might decide to read it later. And later never comes. If the article is well-organized on one or two pages with bullet points and short paragraphs, there's a better chance it will be read right away.

The strain on our 21st century attention would be unimaginable to those who lived in the 19th century. And yet…

"I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in."

- Mark Twain

Reference / Image Credits:
Jim Estill
1. Jk Digital Services


  1. lucyinthesky saidSat, 03 Jan 2009 00:55:01 -0000 ( Link )

    Great lesson! And I liked how this lesson actually put these principles into practice. :)

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  2. binaljavia saidSat, 03 Jan 2009 07:20:29 -0000 ( Link )

    when the Philip of Macedonia was storming the gates of Sparta, he sent a message to the besieged king “If we capture your city we will burn it to the ground”, and came the one- word reply from the King of Sparta – “If”. A single word can sometimes weigh more than 1000s words put together!!

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  3. Shouldice saidThu, 29 Oct 2009 18:07:28 -0000 ( Link )

    how true. I just finished a paper for school and it had to be 2500 words. Back in my undergrad days I would be struggling to stretch it out to that. Now in my grad studies it was all I could do to limit myself to 2500. Short is good – not easy – but good

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  4. essent saidFri, 08 Jan 2010 10:13:36 -0000 ( Link )

    While chaff is chaff, wheat is wheat. If the article demands 4 pages, make sure you don’t kill it by chopping off two pages just to look cool.
    While you talk of King of Sparta’s ‘if’ think of Kipling’s ‘If’ too. Not an ‘if’ more, not an ‘if’ less:

    Twitting has its place, as has blogging.

    Not sure if one can bell the CAT by telegraphic language alone; need to internalize more words, need to have patience for those six-page-articles.

    http://www.lexiology.com

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