Remembering the Readers

Designing Information Material 4(1+3)

Lesson 4: Techniques of Good Writing

Remembering the Readers

Since writing is primarily for communication it is very important to constantly keep the reader in mind. That means more than just typing neatly and avoiding shorthand, which only you can follow, it means talking trouble-ordering your thoughts in a methodical and logical sequence and wording them in the most lucid language. If you fail to take that trouble in clarifying your ideas, you will put the reader to a great deal of trouble in deciphering them. When writing a letter or report keep thinking of the readers likely response to the contents style and tone.

Contents: Don’t go in for detailed technical explanations if your readers or laymen and if readers are experts use some technical language and avoid long winded non-technical explanation.

Style: If some readers are unsophisticated take care not to use language that goes over their heads and if the readers are highly educated and well read, don’t write an overly simplified style. Write bearing in mind that simple writing varies according to the readers’ level of sophistication.

Tone: If the tone is too high you will be considered pampers if too low you may seem discourteous. For e.g. if readers are friendly colleagues use a familiar or informal tone. If readers are bureaucrats or managing Director use a respectful and formal tone.
When you do not know who your reader is, the writing should be a fairly formal tone, fairly non-technical with clear vocabulary and a fairly methodical analysis and explanation of the content.
The standard units of text is English are words, sentences and paragraphs.

Words: English has a very rich vocabulary, large and more varied than that of any other language. The main advantages are variety and precision (exactness) .The variety gives writers and speakers great scope for effective expressions.

Careful construction of sentences is an important step in creating any easily understandable piece of writing. Too major faults in sentence construction are overloading and misarranging. Overloading – too much is put in a sentence. Misarranging-Putting words poorly or not properly. Just choosing the right word is not enough. Where you place the word is more important. Many readability tests have shown that the longer and more complex a sentence becomes, the more difficult it is to understand it. Children’s stories accordingly tend to have short and simple sentences. These days’ professional writers favour a simple style for complex matters because the readers demand it.
Short sentences; produce clear and more easily digestible writing than long sentences. A succession of very short sentences may be appropriate for recipes or instructional manual or even for children stories. However for letters and reports the effect would be unpleasant and distracting.
Most good everyday writing combines fairly short and reasonably long sentences into a smooth flowing sequence that draws no attention to itself but serves to convey the meaning.

A write-up without paragraphs is very discouraging to a reader. When writing is broken into paragraphs it seems more readable and interesting. Paragraphs offer resting places for the readers eye and mind.Paragraphs have a more important function of providing hints at the structure and development of the text. Each paragraph break tells a reader, that he has finished with one topic or theme and is now going to a new one. The traditional rule is one theme or topic per paragraph. Studies have shown that short paragraphs greatly improve the readability. People comprehend and concentrate better when paragraphs are short. Accordingly editors and publishers insist on subdividing a lengthy paragraph into two or more smaller ones.

Last modified: Friday, 27 April 2012, 10:33 AM