In pursuit of short copy…but you don’t want that (really)

Making sense of the world around us is both helped and hindered by the mass of information we can access these days. Never before have we had so many opportunities to learn and satisfy our curiosity on just about any topic that piques our interest. I love it: instant access to expertise and knowhow right around the globe. How great is that.

Overwhelming copy

But a little like Midas, perhaps, that wealth and richness can be hard to handle. The risk is we become bloated and feel overwhelmed by ‘too much information’. So, the smarter practitioners look for ways to simplify and take short cuts to the information they need. When we are communicating with savvy business decision-makers we need to apply this principle with rigour.

Short copy isn’t always best

When it comes to copy, the misdirection is a request to ‘make it shorter’. Can we use less words? The answer, of course, is yes we can. But in the cutting it’s all too easy to lose the very thing that will guide the reader to a eureka moment. Brevity is good but, to quote Roger Horberry (again), clarity is much much better.

Clarity doesn’t necessarily mean longer copy – but it might do. It could be vital to include essential details to crystallise understanding or provide examples to illustrate the point. The trick is not to include so much detail as to bore the reader ridged, to stop when they are likely to have got the message already. It’s easy enough to annex detail and explanations while still making them accessible in a sidebar or appendix.

Our goal is to persuade and move the reader though the buying process. By understanding their need for information at each stage we’re able to make sure the content we are creating aligns with this – and we don’t force feed them more than they can handle.

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