You’ve probably heard or read some version of this many times over the years. The quote has been attributed to several people, from philosophers Blaise Pascal and John Locke, to Mark Twain, and others.
It certainly applies to copywriting, from short ad inserts, to blog posts, to articles, to long sales letters.
I don’t take the quote literally, as if the perfect written message would be the shortest (one word?) but rather each paragraph, each sentence, each word must do its work. That is, to move the reader forward. To make the reader want to keep reading.
No more. And no less. The same principle applies to a 50-page sales letter or white paper as it does to a 100-word email message.
Of course, there will be more, or less, intellectual energy needed depending upon the subject matter.
Some subjects are simply more difficult to grasp.
But that doesn’t mean we have to add to the reader’s burden by using unnecessarily large words or long sentences.
All of which is why editing and readability applications are so useful to copywriters.
These tools are good at catching overlooked or overused words, missing or unnecessary punctuation marks, and grammar and clarity issues, like passive voice.
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