Cover Image: Writing for Busy Readers

Writing for Busy Readers

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Member Reviews

We’re all busy people nowadays. We’re busy churning out reports or emails or text messages. And skimming through those incoming messages we judge to be important while disregarding the rest.
We have all missed important messages or requests from time to time. Or failed to get the desired responses from our own messages. What's the problem? It usually comes down to poor writing.
In response, authors Todd Rogers and Jessica Lanky-Fink of Harvard University have prepared some guidance to help writers in our time-poor world. In their concise book Writing for Busy Readers, they outline the keys to improve communication effectiveness.
Their approach involves six principles:
Less is More. The authors show through numerous experiments, that shorter messages provoke a higher response rate than longer ones. Test yourself: if you have two emails to read; one short and one long, which do you read first? Invariably the short one. Longer messages deter readers so keep your message short, focus on the minimum of ideas and make fewer requests. On this latter point multiple requests in a message usually result in incomplete responses, so work out what’s most important and don’t overburden the reader.
Make Reading Easy. The authors suggest three rules to make writing easier to read. First, use short and common words. This includes avoiding jargon and ‘sophisticated’ words. Second, write straightforward sentences. This means writing in a logical order with all relevant words and phrases close together. And thirdly, write shorter sentences by limiting a sentence to a single idea, rather than trying to combine multiple ideas into one sentence.
Design for Easy Navigation. This principle is all about how writing is laid out so that the reader can be guided to the most important messages. The rules here include making key information immediately visible, separating distinct ideas, using headings, and using visual aids such as tables, charts and diagrams.
The fourth principle is to Use enough formatting, but no more. Highlighting, underlining, or bolding words or sentences is an effective way of directing readers to your key message. But emphasising too many messages or mixing styles can lead to more confusion than clarity.
Tell readers why they should care. Here writers need to emphasize what matters to the reader and what affects them directly, rather than what matters to the writer. And related to this is making sure the message is targeting the right audience. For example a group email notification headed “Closure of Smithton Library” will be more effective than one headed “Notice of Library Closure”.
The sixth and final principle is Make responding easy. This includes simplifying the steps required for the reader to act, organizing key information needed for action, and minimizing the amount of attention required.
The authors have another core tip: Revise, Revise, Revise! Make sure typos and mangled grammar don’t sneak through, then make sure you have answered these two essential questions: “What is the most important information I want my readers to understand?” and “How do I make it easier for my readers to understand it?”
Writing for Busy Readers is an accessible book that provides simple no-nonsense advice to improve your writing effectiveness. Everyone from corporate professionals to wanna-be social media influencers to a Mom or Dad sending out their child’s birthday party invitations would benefit from following the book’s guiding principles.

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Brevity matters. That's one of the principles described in this excellent book on the importance on clear and concise writing for busy readers. The book offers practical tips to writers on how to engage busy readers and improve the impact of their writing. Writers should also aim for readability, being thoughtful in their formatting while making their messages relevant and actionable.

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This is a great book for any writer. I read this for myself and thereafter have wanted to gift it to many of my writer friends. I found it so valuable and insightful. Highly recommend.

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Find here essential tips that every writer should keep in mind as they tap away on their keyboard. We all tend to be lazy readers these days so why write 10 words when three will do. I feel that the authors did not follow their own advice at times especially when they gave more information than I cared to know about. I also longed for more lists which I find much easier to read quickly.



4 stars.

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This book has been a joy to read which means the authors are taking their own advice. By researching how people read, they have created a very helpful guide for effective writing, useful in either a work, school or personal setting. The authors have made it easy to act on the information given, and give clear examples of what does and doesn’t work. I particularly appreciate the short recap of the six principles at the end which will help me when trying to write effectively.
Thank you NetGalley for sending this ebook for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

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How can you capture your reader’s attention? This book is the perfect guide for digital and nondigital writing. Reminds me of a modern version to amplify what was already said from Skunk and White.

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This book is simple and brings across the points clearly with examples. Many before and afters show you how to do the self-editing yourself and still following the rules of communication that will make it easy for the readers to take the action you want them to. If you ever wonder while writing, if your reader is going to care about what you are writing, you have come to the right place to make your writing matter to your reader.

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Great book with great tips. I'm always looking for tips and tricks for better ways to communicate to various audiences. I know that less is more and getting right to the point is crucial so I feel like this book gives you some practical advice to use.

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Every writer wants to be read, but in today's world, that's easier said than done. There is a way to reach those busy readers, and this wonderful author tells you how it is done.

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