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Short Sentences Sell: How to Make a Big Bang with Little Words

When was the last time you read your own copy and set about cutting out any words larger than three syllables? It sounds like a drastic measure, but these days, even corporations are starting to see the light: words like synergy, sustainable and assessment are being sliced out in favor of more direct, simplified language. What’s the deal here? Have we all gotten dumber?

Not at all. But we have gotten more used to the instantly-ready, on-demand world. That means we want to get to the good stuff in language we can understand immediately. Words like teamwork, wholesome, and report.

Prevent Junk from Seeping Into Your Copy

Junk words and phrases like “It seems like” and “Possibly” and “Actually” are all working together to clutter up your copy. They seep in so innocently and then, before you know it, you’ve started writing just like you talk. Sure, a conversational tone is great – but it also creates a lot of needless words that detract from the real meat of your writing.

Go ahead. Strop out words like “very”, “just” and “maybe”. It might seem awkward at first to edit out everyday words like that – but in no time, you’ll find that your words flow much more easily while making your message clearer.

Exaggerations Aren’t Helping Anybody!

Making bold statements with a huge red font and a yellow highlighter aren’t going to get your message across any better. It’s fine to draw attention to some things, but too much exaggeration just dulls the impact that your words have on people. Dig a little deeper and try to find a word that says exactly what you want without going overboard:

For example, how many times have you read something like this?

“Only 27 widgets Left at This Price! Order Now Before It’s Too Late!”

*Yawn*. What happens when it’s too late? Here’s something that’s more likely to startle you into action:

“I can only guarantee 27 widgets at this price. Once the last one is sold, please don’t email me asking where you can get a new widget at 50% off – because when they’re gone, that’s it. If you don’t believe it, just ask the 28th guy who tried to order what he paid for his widget.”

Make Your Writing More Active

Writing in an “active voice” means you use more direct, actionable verbs instead of weaker, passive ones. For example:

“The leftovers were eagerly eaten by the dogs” (passive)

“The dogs eagerly ate the leftovers” (active)

Which one has more punch to it? When you have words like was and were before your verbs, consider cutting them out altogether and using a stronger verb in their place. It reads more easily and is more likely to be noticed by your reader.

Keeping these tips in mind will give your writing much more powerful meaning without taking away your individual creativity and the personal touch you lend to your words. Try it out yourself and see how much easier it is to create more compelling content!

Sherice Jacob helps site owners improve website performance and increase conversions through her blog and custom design service at iElectrify. You can also follow @sherice on Twitter for more big bangs of inspiration and design coolness.

2e4103e761f0637f45f6d10710a4dff7 64 Short Sentences Sell: How to Make a Big Bang with Little Words
Sherice Jacob helps site owners improve website performance and increase conversions through her blog and custom design service at iElectrify. You can also follow @sherice on Twitter for more big bangs of inspiration and design coolness.

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3 thoughts on “Short Sentences Sell: How to Make a Big Bang with Little Words

  1. Great post. I’m always frustrated when I read articles by people who I normally think are pretty bright write a word like “utilize” when simply “use” would do. Guess they are hiding some insecurities and just want to appear smart?

  2. Great article. This is a continual problem in English writing, since our language has so many Latin, Greek, and French words — and those words often sound more distinguished to people. Or academic. Or serious. Or something.

    By the way, another useful tip is to go through your copy and replace all forms of the verbs “to be” and “to have” with more active verbs.