How to Dumb Down Your Writing

Should you simplify your writing?
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In the real world, sophisticated writing doesn’t always do well for various reasons. One reason that people often point out is that the writing is just too hard to understand. If you’re a writer, there will come a time when you seriously need to consider about dumbing down your writing.

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Dumbing down your writing doesn’t imply you’re condescending your readers. The point is to ensure that everyone who read the document can get the message without faulty interpretation.

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Now, how do you dumb down your writing without insulting the readers? Here’s how…

Use simpler words

Just because you think the readers should understand what you mean, doesn’t mean they would. Do your best to avoid obscure words as they will slow down the reading pace. Readers must stop and double take a passage to understand what it’s really about.  Simple words allow your readers to scan the passage easily.

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Another reason why you should use simpler words is that you cannot ensure that all readers will be reading while they’re fully alert. Take novels for instance. You can bet that many read novels when they’re tired and about to hit dreamland. Will those tired brains comprehend those big words as they come up?

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Go simple!

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Instead of acquiesce, use agree. Instead of construe, use interpret. Your readers will thank you.

Understand your readers demographic.

Your readers may not have the same educational, social, or demographic background as you are. Assuming that they will always understand the phrases, idioms, or jargons you throw into your writing is one thing you should never do.

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If you really have to use jargons, add a short description of what they are. That will help your readers follow what’s going on.

Shorten the sentences and paragraphs

In general, a long sentence is harder to read and comprehend compared to shorter ones. Check your writing to see if there are sentences that have twenty or more words in them. Whenever possible, split those into shorter sentences.

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The same thing applies to paragraphs. In school, your teacher may have taught you that a paragraph should contain at least five sentences. Use your own judgment to decide if a paragraph should contain that many sentences. In many cases, shorter sentences work best.

Aim for clarity

After all said and done, the point of your writing is to communicate your ideas to the readers. If you can make it clear to the readers what you want to say is, then you’re right on the mark. Nothing else matters.

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Also make sure that your writing is free from spelling and grammar errors. Such errors can ruin your work in more than one way.

Test it

Once you’ve made all the necessary changes to ensure your passage is clear and easily readable, test just how easy it is for people to read it. One measurement you can use is the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test.

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The formula for the Flesch-Kincaid test counts the length of the words and sentences in a text then use them to come up with a score for the text. The higher the score the better.

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A score of 60 – 70 is considered plain English; something that kids in the 8th or 9th grade can understand easily. This is the score you need to aim when you’re writing for the general public.

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“Is dumbing down a document always the way to go?”

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No, dumbing down your writing may not always the best idea. In some cases, the readers may even think that’s all you can do. .

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Take the advertising and marketing niche for example. Simple words sell and this is a well-known fact among marketers.

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If you want to make a sale, you should avoid big words and jargons. But when you’re making advertising or marketing proposals for the management, your simple writing style may give off the vibe that you’re not that good a writer.

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When you’re writing for a client, just try to balance between simplifying for the readers and pleasing the clients.

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