The importance of language
The words and phrases used to convey information is as important as the underlying message. You need to take into account who the reader is likely to be. A blog article such as this can use simple words and a conversational tone, where instead a scientific article may need to include jargon or technical terms. You can (and should!) write even complex information in as simple a way as possible. That way, whoever reads your work will likely understand it. If you have to use a difficult word, take the time to explain what it means.
Some things to consider
Is the information correct?
Firstly, have you checked that what you have written is factually correct? If you have learned something from elsewhere on the web, or from a book or journal, be sure to reference where you got your information from. You can create links within the text itself, or use footnotes and produce a list of sources at the end.
You should explain a new concept or difficult word in its own paragraph, or a couple of sentences. If you use acronyms, such as “KIT”, be sure to tell reader that it stands for “Keep It Tidy”. Use brackets/parentheses for simple acronyms, and take a little more time to explain complex ones.
Check spelling, grammar and punctuation
It may seem obvious, but there are a lot of cases where articles full of great information are let down by spelling mistakes, poor grammar and incorrect use of punctuation. Errors like this can harm the credibility of the article and the author. A hit to your reputation is a negative mark against your brand. If you can’t write the words down correctly, then who will believe in what you are trying to say?
Use short sentences and small words
Very long sentences are hard to read. Long words should only be used when there is no other. Remember to explain! Keeping sentences to around 20 words maximum is a standard that has been used for years. Also, using words of no more than 3 syllables means that it is likely to be a simpler word to understand.
Doing a readability check on your text is a good way to see how easy it is to understand. One method is the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. This is a calculation which looks at the number of words, the number of sentences, and how many syllables are in each word. The result is a number out of 100. The higher the number, the easier it is to read. The numbers also relate to a similar reading age for the text. For example, a score of between 10 and 50 would mean that only people with a college or university degree or higher could understand it.
To make your content understandable by more people, you would aim for a score of at least 70. Plain English which is easily understood by 13 to 15 year olds.
Writing for a lower reading age does not mean dumbing down the content. Nor does it mean changing or simplifying the meaning. It simply ensures that the largest number of people can understand what you’ve written. Therefore, it has the ability to reach the widest audience.
You can either find a free online tool or paid resource or plugin such as Yoast to check the readability of your content, or calculate it for yourself.
Accessibility of words and images
In addition to the text being easily read and understood, you should also think about the accessibility of the page for those with disabilities. Can a text to speech system clearly read your page? Do images all have alt text (alternative text) description? Do all text links contain a descripimage
Simple changes or additions that prevent you from unintentionally excluding people from your content, or products and services.