Readability and Reputation

Make the Clarity-Credibility Connection

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Categories: Techniques & Tactics, Writing

Communicating in a crisis? Got bad news to share? Avoid even the appearance of obfuscation with clear, crisp messages that build credibility while communicating transparently.

  • Activate the passive voice: Avoid the "mistakes were made" syndrome.
  • Don't bury readers in an avalanche of explanation: Use a new measure — A.R.T. — to avoid the appearance of obfuscation.
  • Use a cool tool (you probably already have it, but you might not know it) to measurably improve your message’s readability and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Avoid discombobulating readers: The longer your sentences get, the more likely your message is to be misunderstood. But how long is too long?
  • Don't cause readers to skip key passages. The longer your paragraphs get, the less likely people are to read them. Learn to measure and manage paragraph length to increase reading.


Ann Wylie, president, Wylie Communications

Photo of Ann Wylie

Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers, and with organizations that want to get the word out. Her workshops take her from Hollywood to Helsinki, and to organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia. More than 14,000 communicators worldwide subscribe to her e-zine, Wylie’s Writing Tips. She has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her work.



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