As a college student at a liberal arts school, I write all kinds of essays, reflections, and research papers. While the subject matter varies, each piece of writing looks exactly the same: double spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins. While this format may seem dry, it creates a clean palette for one’s work. The writer must focus entirely on the clarity and content of their writing without the distraction of how it is presented to an audience. This ultimately produces stronger writing.
However, the real world is not like college (this fact is unsurprising to most and quite shocking to some). There are no more rules about font, size, or color. Anything goes, which is liberating but can also be dangerous for the quality of writing. This is where the power of design is brought in to grab the user’s attention and keep it there. Good design can (almost) work magic. Design is a communication tool that makes a specific objective or message accessible to a user or consumer, but it cannot speak for content. Even with the introduction of design elements, one cannot forget the core importance of writing well. Key ideas and pieces of information still need to be expressed in a clear and quick manner. If the content is sterile, dense, or unclear, all could be lost.
Fortunately, if you have forgotten everything you learned in high school AP English or napped through your freshman year writing seminar, here are a few tips to make your next piece of content even more comprehensible and engaging to your user.
This is an obvious reminder, but the importance of proofreading can never be emphasized enough. Grammatical errors quickly isolate the user, causing them to distrust the validity of the information they are absorbing.
Use Active Voice
Try to avoid the passive voice. For example, say, “Our organization started a new project” (active) instead of “A new project was started by our organization” (passive). This change prevents the sentence from becoming too complicated and gives strength to your message. It engages the reader and draws them in. If the writing is active and lively, users feel present and are more likely to act.
Keep it short
Cut down on wordiness and get right to the core of what you are trying to say. Focus on conveying one idea or piece of information per sentence. This ensures each sentence is serving your objective and staying to the point.
A sentence that includes more than three items confuses the reader and makes them lose interest. If you need to list more than three things, consider using a colon instead of more commas.
For longer pieces of text, introduce the intention of the paragraph in the sentence. This situates the reader and allows them to concentrate more easily on the rest of the text.
With these considerations, your engaging content and the innovative design of openbox9 can come together to create work that is effective and powerful.