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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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impressive

Impressive words don’t

Including long ‘impressive’ words in your content won’t impress many people or make everyone think you are super smart.

In fact, using lots of long words makes your writing harder to read and you appear pompous. A study in 2005 showed a negative relationships between complex writing and perception of the writer’s intelligence – in other words, overuse of big words made readers think the writer was less intelligent.

You may have developed the habit of using a bigger vocabulary at school or university – and teachers do need to see you understand a range of words and technical terms – but it’s a good habit to break when writing business materials.

Keep words and sentences short – write in the same style as you speak – be clear and concise – and your message will be understood which is the point.

It’s still one point

When writing a list of ideas or tips, it is worth making sure each one has enough value to be in the list – it is better to read a short list of valuable ideas than a long list of mostly junk surrounding a few good ideas.

Even if you’re calling your list something like “top ten tips” or “101 things to do with cheese”, don’t get tempted to make the list longer just so the title seems more impressive. Your credibility will suffer if the list doesn’t provide the help or interest people were looking for.

What I find even more annoying is a list of say 20 things which actually turns out to be a list of 10 or 15 things. I’m not sure if these writers are deliberately trying to plump out a short list or don’t realise how repetitive they are being, but either way it wastes my time and I don’t like it.

Here are the common ways I’ve seen people repeat list items…

  • giving the same point in different terms. For example, “use good spelling and grammar” and “don’t misspell words or use bad grammar” as two separate points – obviously, they mean exactly the same thing!
  • making the same point in different words so it almost seems a different point. For instance “remember to market your existing customers as well as potential customers” is really the same as “don’t neglect your current customers in word of mouth campaigns” in a list of ideas for treating customers well
  • breaking one point into two points – neither point fully makes sense alone, but if they are long enough they can look acceptable

Are there are other common repetitions or problems with lists that you have come across? What has been your reaction to these annoyances?

Happy writing!