Imagine for a minute… a person has just arrived to your website. He/she knows what you’re talking about. He/she is an important customer. He/she has a relevant topic. He/she is interested in your content.
You may be all excited now; that now he/she’s going to do something you’d like him/her to do. You want it.
But the reality is harsh. Chances are, after looking at a couple of pages, the person will exit your site, never to return again. He/she was a potential customer, but he/she didn’t buy. He/she didn’t even look around to see if you had any freebies.
Because you weren’t making use of clarity.
Why? Because they didn’t understand what you were talking about. They knew your topic, they knew your content, and they were interested in what you had to say on the topic. But when they actually read your articles, they found they weren’t understanding a word. You were either a fancy-nancy writer, a grammatical expert who followed all the rules, or just someone who got a degree in English Literature and was very fond of it.
Short, clear, easy-to-understand words and sentences is what clarity is all about. Clarity means that the readers actually understand what you’re saying rather than reading and getting hopelessly lost.
Which example do you prefer?
The event commenced on 18th February 2009. It terminated a decade later. The study of geology was long-term. No one felt that their intelligence was indulged too much in elementary work. They all felt impoverished without it.
The event began on 18th February 2009. It finished ten years later. The study of the earth’s surface went on for a long time. No one felt that they were doing easy work. They felt as if they’d become poor without it.
But as always, there are exceptions. If your audience is a Literary Society you’re perfectly free to use long words and sentences. You’re free to use the long word examples. You’re even encouraged to use them. That way your audience won’t feel insulted. 😉 And if a normal person stumbles upon your site and their head spins… well let it. They aren’t of the audience anyway.
For most, though: short words and sentences are best. Be aware of clarity — use it consciously — and you will be amazed at the results.
Have Your Say
Up to you! Time to tell us what you have to say about clarity.
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