Helping journalists, producers and conference planners find the female guests, speakers and expert sources they need.

10 minutes to more readable writing

by Shari Graydon

An avid reader with too much pride to ever have invested in the Coles Notes of anything, I nevertheless appreciate it when someone smart effectively encapsulates the essentials of a course, degree or philosophy in a 1,000-word treatise. So I heartily salute Guardian journalist Tim Radford for not only writing, but posting online his “Manifesto for a simple scribe.” It consists of 25 valuable tips sure to help any writer — established or aspiring, academic or popular — to do a better job of engaging readers.

They’re all good, but numbers 3, 4 and 5 are short and compelling enough to include here:

3. So the first sentence you write will be the most important sentence in your life, and so will the second, and the third. This is because, although you – an employee, an apostle or an apologist – may feel obliged to write, nobody has ever felt obliged to read.

4. Journalism is important. It must never, however, be full of its own self-importance. Nothing sends a reader scurrying to the crossword, or the racing column, faster than pomposity. Therefore simple words, clear ideas and short sentences are vital in all storytelling. So is a sense of irreverence.

5. Here is a thing to carve in pokerwork and hang over your typewriter. “No one will ever complain because you have made something too easy to understand.”

Sign up to receive workshop notifications, occasional blog posts and our quarterly newsletter

JOURNALISTS: Sign up to receive alerts for sources for breaking news stories