Writing an Effective Message

Have you ever noticed that the more you tell people the less they seem to know? Studies have shown that is actually true. Shorter, to the point, messages get read and understood better than their longer form counterparts.

How do you provide the right message? Consider all the elements:

  • Length: It takes people about 1 minute to read 200 words. Think about how much time your reader should spend on your message and target a length that matches.
  • Paragraphs: Keep paragraphs short so people won’t skip them completely. About 40 words is a good target length for each paragraph.  A paragraph can be one sentence.
  • Sentences: Short sentences are most effective. If your sentence is longer than about 15 words, trim it. Or, make it into two sentences.
  • Words: Avoid jargon. Use a simple word when it will do.  Words that are 5 characters or fewer are easiest to read.

If you use Word to compose your message, pay attention to the readability stats that are part of the Spelling & Grammar Check feature. To enable readability stats:

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, make sure the Check grammar with spelling check box is selected.
  4. Select Show readability statistics.

After you enable this feature, open a file that you want to check, and check the spelling. When Word finishes checking the spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.