In today’s fast paced society of instant gratification, writing is becoming a lost art. Those that ordinarily would read have come to view reading as a form of work. To counter this, modern culture has been experimenting with different styles and lengths of writing, hoping to find that one magical formula that will get their message across without people yawning at their efforts. As an entrepreneur, you need to understand how much reading is tolerated if you want to keep your customers happy.
Different Written Situations
Depending on what the reading situation is, readers will have different levels of patience with the amount of written words they are presented with. As a general rule, those who are sincerely wishing to learn about something will tolerate writing in greater amounts. Those with only a passing interest will tolerate far less writing in any given situation.
Those situations can differ greatly, depending on what the writing is attached to. For a product description on a box in a store that customers can physically interact with, up to 100 words are generally tolerated. For products available online, 100-200 words are preferred, but only when coupled with a detailed photograph. The front page of your small business’s website should generally contain up to 350-400 words, but be highly spaced among photographs and interactive menus.
Once you wander away from the initial interactions that your company has with people, you will find that readers will generally respond well to between 400-600 words about any given topic. When you venture beyond the 600 word point, make certain that your writing is broken up with sub-headings and plenty of colorful photographs. For small ebooks that you want your clients to read, 15,000-20,000 words, split into carefully defined chapters, is a good starting point.
The Extremes Of Writing
Knowing that clients respond poorly to too many or too few words will come as a surprise to those who operate small businesses. Entrepreneurs automatically want to know how much is too much, and how little is too little, and which situations can be easily misjudged.
Although the extremes of writing do exist, you can generally avoid them simply by using common sense. While it is nice to have a rough word count as a guide, the length of time your readers will stick around depends entirely on how informative they find the writing that you have provided. If you don’t have enough quality information to fill the word count guide’s suggested space for a product, you either need to write less or learn more before you start writing.
Knowing When To Stop
When you are writing for different purposes, it is important to take into account your knowledge of the subject, along with where your writing will appear. The context that your writing will be used in will give you an indication of when you simply won’t have any more room to construct proper sentences.
Sometimes, it is in your best interest to stop early, and wrap your text around photographs instead of pushing on to try to fill a space. You will feel when your writing has come to a natural stopping point, a place where you have said everything that you need to say. When you reach this point, you should write a conclusion, if needed, and simply stop writing.
Paragraph Length – Too Much?
It is inside the paragraphs themselves that writing turns into something that the average reader considers work. As an entrepreneur, you must keep in mind that when your reader is confronted with too much text in a big, intimidating wall of a paragraph, they will stop reading.
In fact, as your reader glances over the rest of your information, if they see too much text, they will leave. In the modern mind, it is easier to drive across town and find a different store with a similar product than it is to read that block of text printed on the side of your product’s packaging.
To make the maximum impact without creating too much text all in a single location, you should make your paragraphs no more than five written lines long. Seven written lines should be the absolute maximum. Any longer than 5-7 lines, and the reader will immediately view the writing as work.
Paragraph Length – Too Little?
Alternatively, there are those writing coaches out there who will insist that a single line of text is the maximum that the average reader wants to see these days. These proponents of over-simplifying writing call for a return to the classic “See Spot Run” style of sentence. They highly encourage that your writing should never exceed two full lines before a paragraph break is made.
This advice is commonly given by people who are helping to stereotype the fast-paced, instant gratification world that the rest of us are trying to live in. While you can follow their advice if you wish, you should know that any writing style wherein readers are not asked to pull more than five simple words together into a sentence is often seen as demeaning by the reader.
To this end, you should try to make your paragraphs at least two lines long, and always attempt to use a mixture of complex and simple sentences in them. The occasional short paragraph is okay, but you should make these the exception, not the rule.
Any time that you feel like your writing needs a little bit of spice, feel free to add in a couple of photographs. By spacing these apart and alternating the side of the text that they appear in, your readers will feel as if your writing isn’t as intimidating as it initially appeared.
Regardless of whether you are writing for products, providing information to your customers, or offering helpful hints and advice, the photograph can say a lot. Just keep in mind that the picture does not replace the written words, and your customers need both to make an appropriate decision.