Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food for Thought: Omit Needless Words

Every time someone says "It's complicated," I cringe. In the rare case, it'll be followed by the lament, "We need smarter customers." Both signal the potential for jargon. For unnecessary words. It takes effort to follow Rule 17: Omit needless words (The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White).
Today's morning reading #TheElementsOfStyle
Twitter with its 140 character limit challenges us to make every word count. Most commercial authors, "Tweeters," want you to do something; they include a "call to action (CTA)." Their 140 characters must convince you to learn more, to go to a longer advertisement and explanation. Google Adwords grants a copywriter a few more characters towards their cause. Abbreviations, contractions, and other hilarity ensues. Clarity is lost. Obfuscation reigns.
I carry "the little book" tucked inside my purse, for those times when I find myself with unexpected, unscheduled time or faced with writer's block. This morning the book reminds me to start with the message and build with clear, concise examples. Not an easy task in technology. We love our jargon, what we think is our shared language with prospective customers. It's hard to remember we have the benefit of days, weeks, even years to decipher our prose.
What would you do if you couldn't use jargon?
Could you go an entire work day?

I'll let you know how it goes for that's my challenge. Today as I review, edit, restructure, and revise, I'll be approaching our content, our message, with "a beginner's mind" and mercilessly eliminating needless words.
Ciao Bella!
P.S. Look for today's regularly scheduled Type Tuesday post later in the week. I had some issues with Blogger. Basically I lost the credits for the designers and don't feel comfortable releasing the post without showcasing them.
Credits: All layout designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.