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Elegant Simplicity<br />
bridging the gap<br />between the writer <br />and the reader<br />
Penny McKinlay<br />Communication, Research, Analysis <br />Saskatoon, SK, Canada<br />penny@axonsoft.com<br />http://www....
You wrote it . . .<br />. . . but is anyone reading it?<br />
Text doesn’t exist in isolation. <br />It is part of a page or a computer screen. <br />The way the words <br />are organi...
Effective writing is simple and elegant <br />– like a well-designed garden.<br />
It invites readers <br />to enter, <br />to follow the story,<br />to explore the ideas.<br />
Here are three key tools for <br />increasing readability:<br />
#1	Start a conversation with the reader. <br />Invite them to start reading.<br />
#2	Eliminate the clutter. <br />Make it easy for readers to follow the flow of your story.<br />
#3	Highlight the most important information. <br />Encourage readers to pause and consider.<br />
#1<br />Start a conversation <br />with the reader<br />
Catch the reader’s attention and tell them what to expect.<br /><ul><li>Titles
Subject lines
Table of contents
Lead paragraphs</li></li></ul><li>
Might be interesting<br />
That’s what I’m looking for<br />
Include the reader in the conversation.<br /><ul><li>I, you, we
Questions
Quotes
Images of people’s faces </li></ul>– especially their eyes<br />
What’s on YOUR travel life list?<br />
“faces grab attention, <br />are recognized quickly, <br />and bypass the usual brain interpreting channels”<br />
Here are two versions of a slide. <br />The second one does a better job <br />of connecting with its audience.<br />
#2<br />Eliminate the clutter<br />
There is way too much “stuff” in this tiny patio garden.<br />
Time to clear away some of the clutter.<br />
Eliminate unnecessary information.<br />
PowerPoint presentations are visual <br />- like movies or comics.<br />
Boring!<br />
Politically incorrect – maybe.<br />But very effective.<br />
Eliminate unnecessary words.<br />
“We'll be working with the UK. The UK are already rolling out the biometrics. What we'll be endeavouring to do is to suppl...
“A solitary<br />crow on a bare branch – <br />autumn evening”<br />Basho<br />
Eliminate unnecessary visual effects.<br />
So much information – charts, numbers, images, colours. But what is important?<br />
Reducing ideas to their essential elements <br />highlights the key information.<br />
Uncluttered charts are easier to read.<br />
Too many bright colours makes it hard to read <br />the data and nothing stands out.<br />
“Empty space <br />can be dynamic and active <br />through careful placement <br />of positive elements.”<br />
#3<br />Highlight the <br />most important <br />information<br />
Chunk it and keep it short.<br /><ul><li>Sub-headings
Side bars
Call-out boxes
Small sections of text</li></li></ul><li>
Group related information.<br />
Prioritize: first things first.<br /><ul><li>Lists are clear and easy to follow.</li></li></ul><li>
Mexico City Unmasked: <br />20 Insider Tips<br />
Provide visual cues.<br />
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Elegant Simplicity: Bridging the gap between the writer and the reader

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Good writing is simple and elegant - like a well-designed garden. It invites readers to enter, to follow the story, to explore the ideas.

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Elegant Simplicity: Bridging the gap between the writer and the reader

  1. 1. Elegant Simplicity<br />
  2. 2. bridging the gap<br />between the writer <br />and the reader<br />
  3. 3. Penny McKinlay<br />Communication, Research, Analysis <br />Saskatoon, SK, Canada<br />penny@axonsoft.com<br />http://www.pennymckinlay.axonsoft.com<br />www.wanderlustandwords.blogspot.com<br />
  4. 4. You wrote it . . .<br />. . . but is anyone reading it?<br />
  5. 5. Text doesn’t exist in isolation. <br />It is part of a page or a computer screen. <br />The way the words <br />are organized on the page <br />affects the way they are perceived. <br />
  6. 6. Effective writing is simple and elegant <br />– like a well-designed garden.<br />
  7. 7. It invites readers <br />to enter, <br />to follow the story,<br />to explore the ideas.<br />
  8. 8. Here are three key tools for <br />increasing readability:<br />
  9. 9. #1 Start a conversation with the reader. <br />Invite them to start reading.<br />
  10. 10. #2 Eliminate the clutter. <br />Make it easy for readers to follow the flow of your story.<br />
  11. 11. #3 Highlight the most important information. <br />Encourage readers to pause and consider.<br />
  12. 12. #1<br />Start a conversation <br />with the reader<br />
  13. 13. Catch the reader’s attention and tell them what to expect.<br /><ul><li>Titles
  14. 14. Subject lines
  15. 15. Table of contents
  16. 16. Lead paragraphs</li></li></ul><li>
  17. 17. Might be interesting<br />
  18. 18. That’s what I’m looking for<br />
  19. 19.
  20. 20.
  21. 21. Include the reader in the conversation.<br /><ul><li>I, you, we
  22. 22. Questions
  23. 23. Quotes
  24. 24. Images of people’s faces </li></ul>– especially their eyes<br />
  25. 25. What’s on YOUR travel life list?<br />
  26. 26.
  27. 27. “faces grab attention, <br />are recognized quickly, <br />and bypass the usual brain interpreting channels”<br />
  28. 28. Here are two versions of a slide. <br />The second one does a better job <br />of connecting with its audience.<br />
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
  31. 31. #2<br />Eliminate the clutter<br />
  32. 32. There is way too much “stuff” in this tiny patio garden.<br />
  33. 33. Time to clear away some of the clutter.<br />
  34. 34. Eliminate unnecessary information.<br />
  35. 35. PowerPoint presentations are visual <br />- like movies or comics.<br />
  36. 36. Boring!<br />
  37. 37. Politically incorrect – maybe.<br />But very effective.<br />
  38. 38. Eliminate unnecessary words.<br />
  39. 39. “We'll be working with the UK. The UK are already rolling out the biometrics. What we'll be endeavouring to do is to supplement and value add to that framework that's already in place, those technologies, so that we're not replicating or duplicating them.”Robert McClelland, Australian federal Attorney General<br />(weaselwords.com.au)<br />
  40. 40. “A solitary<br />crow on a bare branch – <br />autumn evening”<br />Basho<br />
  41. 41. Eliminate unnecessary visual effects.<br />
  42. 42. So much information – charts, numbers, images, colours. But what is important?<br />
  43. 43. Reducing ideas to their essential elements <br />highlights the key information.<br />
  44. 44. Uncluttered charts are easier to read.<br />
  45. 45. Too many bright colours makes it hard to read <br />the data and nothing stands out.<br />
  46. 46. “Empty space <br />can be dynamic and active <br />through careful placement <br />of positive elements.”<br />
  47. 47.
  48. 48. #3<br />Highlight the <br />most important <br />information<br />
  49. 49. Chunk it and keep it short.<br /><ul><li>Sub-headings
  50. 50. Side bars
  51. 51. Call-out boxes
  52. 52. Small sections of text</li></li></ul><li>
  53. 53.
  54. 54.
  55. 55. Group related information.<br />
  56. 56.
  57. 57.
  58. 58. Prioritize: first things first.<br /><ul><li>Lists are clear and easy to follow.</li></li></ul><li>
  59. 59.
  60. 60. Mexico City Unmasked: <br />20 Insider Tips<br />
  61. 61. Provide visual cues.<br />
  62. 62.
  63. 63.
  64. 64.
  65. 65.
  66. 66. Credits<br />Slide 14 – Spacing magazine, national issue, Spring 2011<br />Slide 15 – The Idiot and the Odyssey, Joel Stratte-McLure (Kindle version)<br />Slide 16 – Content Rules, Ann Handley (Kindle version)<br />Slide 17 – Fast Company email newsletter<br />Slides 18, 53 – The Oprah Magazine, May 2011<br />Slides 20, 21, 50 – Travel + Leisure magazine, 2010<br />Slide 22 - Susan Weinschenk, 100 Things You Should Know About People: #92, http://www.whatmakesthemclick.net/2011/03/27/100-things-you-should-know-about-people-92-there-is-a-brain-area-dedicated-to-perceiving-faces/<br />Slides 22, 46, 54 – Budget Travel magazine, April 2010<br />Slides 24, 25, 31, 32, 37, 38, 42, 59 –http://www.slideshare.net/garr/sample-slides-by-garr-reynolds<br />Slide 30 – iStockphoto<br />
  67. 67. Credits, cont.<br />Slides 39, 40 – Graph Design IQ Test, Stephen Few, www.perceptualedge.com<br />Slide 41 – Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen Design<br />Slide 45 – Casa Batlló Visual Guide, DosdeArteEdiciones<br />Slide 47 – Wanderlust magazine, November 2010<br />Slide 49 – Afar magazine, May/June 2011<br />Slides 52, 57, 58 – online software documentation, Axon Development Corporation<br />Slide 56 –http://www.andyrutledge.com/gestalt-principles-3.php<br />Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by Penny McKinlay in Spain.<br />

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