Why The Words You Use Can Make or Break Your Blog Posts

Smart people use big words, right?

Does it mean that using big words makes you sound smarter?

Well… according to this study, the answer is no.

Irony: The title of the study’s title is Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.

In fact, using words no one understands makes you sound small-minded.

To sound smart, you must stop trying to sound smart. Smart writing is simple writing, a relevant idea delivered clearly and directly.

Here are the best ways for smart writing…

1. Have something to say

This makes writing easier and faster. When you have nothing to say, you are forced to write sentences that sound meaningful but deliver nothing.

2. Choose simple words

Write use instead of utilize, near instead of close proximity, help instead of facilitate, for instead of in the amount of, start instead of commence.

Use longer words only if your meaning is so specific no other words will do.

3. Write short sentences

You should keep sentences short for the same reason you keep paragraphs short: they’re easier to read and understand.

Each sentence should have one simple thought. More than that creates complexity and invites confusion.

4. Use the active voice

Because passive voice bores people.

People are bored by the use of passive voice.

Notice the difference between the two sentences?

5. Use short paragraphs

Look at any newspaper and notice the short paragraphs.

That’s done to make reading easier, because our brains take in information better when it’s broken into small chunks.

In academic writing, each paragraph develops one idea and often includes many sentences. But in casual, everyday writing, the style is less formal and paragraphs may be as short as a single sentence or even a single word.

See?

6. Eliminate fluff words

Mark Twain suggested that you should “Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

7. Don’t ramble

Rambling is a big problem for many writers. Not as big as some other problems, such as affordable health insurance or the Middle East, which has been a problem for many decades because of disputes over territory. Speaking of which, the word “territory” has an interesting word origin from terra, meaning earth.

But the point is, don’t ramble.

8. Don’t be redundant or repeat yourself

Also, don’t keep writing the same thing over and over and over. In other words, say something once rather than several times. Because when you repeat yourself or keep writing the same thing, your readers go to sleep.

9. Don’t over write

This is a symptom of having too little to say or too much ego. The so called verbal narcissism. Because you can keep writing and writing, and you’ve become so enamored by this that it’s easy to use a lot of words to present simple ideas, just because you can.

Yes, you can get sidetracked by the words themselves to such a point that you forget about the message.

What was I saying?

10. Edit, edit, edit

Shorten, delete, and rewrite anything that does not add to the meaning. It’s okay to write in a casual style, but don’t inject extra words without good reason.

To make this easier, break your writing into three steps:

  1. Write the entire text.
  2. Set your text aside for a few hours or days.
  3. Return to your text and edit.

None of us can ever be perfect writers, and no one expects us to be. However, we can all improve our style and sound smarter by following these tips and writing naturally.

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39 thoughts on “Why The Words You Use Can Make or Break Your Blog Posts

  1. I agree with all of your points. I think it’s important that we speak with honesty and from the heart, to speak in a way that is natural for us as individuals. Everyone can tell when we are trying too hard or when we try to be someone that we are not. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think, yes, readers can tell.

      Also, the rules a bit different when it comes to blogging. Folks prefer a more conversational style, some simple words.

      No one wants to be sent to a dictionary when reading a travel blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent advice. I once read a ridiculous political blog post that used all kinds of vague entries from a thesaurus, and it only made me think less of the author’s opinion.

    I chose to respond with this: “Likewise I might engage in ostentatious pedantry and spurious erudition, But verily a vivacious vernacular is but a gilded veneer betwixt the bulwark of veracity and vapid sophistry.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahaha. I have absolutely no idea what you wrote there… But it does prove a point. It makes me feel dumb, while also making me like you less.

      Also, I think it proves the point that you don’t have to be better than everyone (and this can actually be counterproductive)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You can also display your erudition using short words, which will still frustrate your reader. I don’t drink coffee, but I know that most coffee shops give customers a zarf with their drink. (Well done if you didn’t have to look that up.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nope. Sorry. I respect the intelligence of my readers too much to dumb down my blog. Most of my favorite blogs employ a robust vocabulary, don’t shy away from complex sent and aren’t afraid of substantial paragraph lengths. Possibly, those in my niche are accustomed to mature writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I try my best to be accessible to everyone. I don’t pretend to be of higher intelligence or show condescendence. I write the best I can so that everyone can easily understand my message. Of course, not all my posts have a big amount of likes as I often pick topics that aren’t necessarily super popular. However, I am careful in my phrasing. Good post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And if you are going to use ridiculous words that no one else understands, make sure you actually are using them right. As a copy editor, I would look up these words and realize they were used incorrectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Would you mind expounding on numbers 2 & 8?
    (That was a joke.)
    I love this post; although it confirms, I am a selfish writer.
    I know I limit my readership with my use of language. You’ve given me something to think about today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some good points, particularly for anyone trying to sell something, or write captions, blurbs, crawlers or advertising copy.
    My feelings lie most closely to DebbieLynne’s comments above.
    For one, I would not “dumb down” my writing to make it more accessible. One of the purposes of my fiction writing (for younger readers) is to use complex grammar and punctuation, and a broad diction so they may become accustomed to them, to learn and expand their own abilities.
    There was a time when we wanted to learn new words. We’d find words in the dictionary and memorize their definitions, use them when we could.
    I am writing to entertain and engage, not to make it easy to read what I’ve written.
    I have no problem being “smarter” than my readers. Having a voluminous vocabulary, and writing sentences and paragraphs in linguistic styles. There are a lot of people that are not as “smart” as me. There are many that are smarter, too.
    My goal is to write compelling content in a captivating style. I HOPE people might need to look up some of the words I use. Off the top of my head, here are two words used in work emails to which colleagues responded they “had to look it up.”: 1) Muskeg 2) Pugilist.
    People should know what muskeg and pugilist mean. And harrowed. And umbrageous.
    Without people like me and DebbieLynne writing as well as we can, all the world will just keep getting dumber. Soon, folks would need to look up every other word on their phone.
    Language is an art. Like all arts, there are a variety of venues. In some cases, a black and white photo is adequate to relay the facts as illustrated. But do we really want to tell the DaVincis and Rembrandts and Homers and Monets of the world that they should stick with simpler illustrations and a 4-color press?
    Alas, perhaps this may be rambling.
    It sounds like content and communication to me.

    Notwithstanding, this post makes good points. They do, of course, apply to specific types of writing and communication. I call it the fast-food lane for writers and readers.
    I prefer to be seated.

    Best regards,

    Paz

    Like

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