Posted by: episystechpubs | July 21, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Most people don’t have a lot of time to read their emails. If they open an email to find several long paragraphs, they probably won’t do more than skim the email, which means they could miss important information.

You may not realize it, but writing is visual. According to William Zinsser, in his book On Writing Well, writing “…catches the eye before it catches the brain. Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas a long chunk of type can discourage a reader from even starting to read” (Zinsser 1998, 80).

Consider how different Aesop’s Fable, “The Lion and the Mouse,” looks when I “put air around” the text. The columns contain exactly the same information, but the information on the right is much more inviting.

The Lion and the Mouse
A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her. "Spare me!" begged the poor Mouse. "Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you." The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go. Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter’s net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free. "You laughed when I said I would repay you," said the Mouse. "Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion The Moral Is: A kindness is never wasted.
The Lion and the Mouse

A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws.

A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion’s nose.

Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.

"Spare me!" begged the poor Mouse. "Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you."

The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.

Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter’s net.

Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net.

Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.

"You laughed when I said I would repay you," said the Mouse. "Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion."

The Moral Is: A kindness is never wasted.

This tip is important for emails but also for technical and professional writing. Keep your audience’s attention by keeping your paragraphs short and to the point.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: