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How To Write Cleaner for Better Results

"Write cleaner." You hear that all the time from writing coaches.

In order to hook your reader and keep him, you’ve got to grab his attention with enticing content – facts, anecdotes, statistics, angles, ideas. But it’s clean writing that will make or break you. Because your reader will only stick with a piece if it’s easy to read.

“Clean” content flows. It holds your interest. You’re not writing to impress your 10th grade English teacher … you’re writing to engage your reader.

Clean writing stands out

According to Unleashing Connection, the average American reads 3,000 notices or forms in one year – and 100 newspapers, 36 magazines and 3 books. That’s a lot of words competing with yours, whether it’s on the web, in social media, promotional materials or articles.

Readers notice. Don't you? I gravitate to bloggers and authors who write good content that is easiest to understand out of all the choices I have.

Here are five simple, proven ways to write cleaner to stand out and give you better results.

1. Focus on one idea

5 ways to write cleaner for better results with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Consumers are bombarded with distractions. But clear, concise communication gets attention. The best way to focus your message is to identify the purpose of your writing project. Are you announcing an update of your organization’s activities? Sharing information in an article or essay? Thanking a client for a sale? Soliciting a donation?

Concentrate on communicating one main point to your target audience.

Trick:  Summarize the message of your piece in one sentence. Make sure every bit of writing supports or advances your summary sentence.

2. Use simple language

People read for information. They don’t want to work hard to understand what you’re saying. If you can use a 10-cent word instead of a 10-dollar word, do so. Think, “total” rather than “aggregate,” “cut” rather than “eliminate,” “use” rather than “utilize.”

Trick: Read your piece aloud. Does it read the way you talk? If not, replace words you never use in everyday conversation.

3. Avoid repetition

Repetitive writing obscures your point. Worse, it wastes your reader’s time.

Look for repeated ideas. Do you try to beef up your writing by saying the same thing several different ways? That technique will bore your reader and make him think your content is fluff. He’ll click off your site, turn the page to a different article or toss your letter into the trash can.

Trick: Check for one idea per sentence, one main point per paragraph. Make sure none of these duplicate another. To write cleaner, combine thoughts where there is overlap.

4. Write in short sections

People are busy. That explains why the USA Today® format is so popular -- readers like information quick and tight. Write crisp lists of ideas and bullet points. Use short sentences, paragraphs and sections. Make sure there’s plenty of white space on your document. Keep paragraph length to five lines or less.

Trick: Use the breath test. Can you read a sentence or a paragraph in one breath? If the answer is no, then break it into sections.

5. Cut out unnecessary words

Read each and every sentence slowly. Check to see if every word is absolutely essential. Make use of the “delete” key where needed.

Or … read each sentence. Check every word. Use the “delete” key where needed.

Trick: Pare down your piece to its bare bones. Does it still get your point across? Go back and read it one more time … and strike for any additional, remaining unessential words.

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