Simple Wins Again

July 4th, 2007

Here are some simple guildlines for simple copy …

  • DON’T express more than one idea in a sentence
  • DON’T use sentences of more than 15 or 20 words
  • DON’T use more than 4 sentences in any one paragraph
  • DON’T let any paragraph run for longer than 6 lines
  • DON’T use more than 250-300 words in any block of text
  • DON’T use unnecessarily complicated words
    For example
    “Restart” not “recommence”; “soon” not “in the foreseeable future”; “bought” not “purchased”; “need help” not “require assistance”
  • DON’T use foreign words
    For example
    “forever” not “ad infinitum”; “problem” not “bêté noir”; “clever” not “adroit”; “required” not “de rigueur”
  • DON’T use jargon
    For example
    “use” not “utilise”; “active” not “pro-active”; “fired” not “de-installed”;
  • DON’T use words with three or more syllables
    For example
    “walk” not “perambulate”; “soothing” not “emollient”; “slight of hand” not “legerdemain”
  • DON’T use unfamiliar or rare words
  • DON’T use unfamiliar acronyms or abbreviations without spelling them out in full the first time
  • DON’T use more than three acronyms or abbreviations in any one paragraph
  • DON’T use many words when one will do
    For example
    “catastrophe” not “terrible disaster”; “facts” not “true facts”; “consider” not “actively consider”
  • DON’T hesistate to break any of these rules if it seems patronising


Leave a Reply