Comprehensible writing is more than writing simple words and short sentences. It is at least as important that you add structure to your texts. But do you? In this article I share 9 tips. Perhaps the information is not completely new to you, but it never hurts to refresh your memory.
Understandable texts and texts at B1 level have been the subject of my blogs for some time now. Because what makes a text really understandable for a reader?
Structure as part of an understandable text
I found that an understandable story goes far beyond writing simple words, short sentences and clear headlines (the standard features of B1). As far as I’m concerned, a ‘clear structure’ should not be missing from this list.
A logical structure is crucial to get your message across clearly. Is the common thread missing in a text? Then you will probably give up quickly.
However, creating that structure is a challenge for many people. That’s why I take you through the writing process of an informative article about fringe benefits, which I wrote for an online platform for entrepreneurs.
Determine your message, target and target group
To determine a good text structure, I always ask myself these questions before writing:
- What do I want to tell? In this case, I would like to present a number of fringe benefits with which employers can make a difference for their people.
- To who do I want to tell you this? My text is intended for employers and HR specialists.
- Why do I want to tell you this? I would like to emphasize these terms and conditions of employment, because they contribute to sustainable employability of employees. And that is important in this tight labor market, in which employers and entrepreneurs have to distinguish themselves.
I usually write the headline of my article last.
Once I’ve done my research, it’s time to structure the mountain of information. In my opinion, the following elements are crucial.
Sure: your article starts with a headline or title. But I usually write the headline last. Until then, I’ll use a working title.
Why? Only when the entire text is on paper, I can best judge what the real core of the story is. Often a sentence or quote jumps out that I can use as a headline.
In this case, I take great care that the headline gives readers an idea of what to expect. I also want to encourage my readers to keep reading. That is why I emphasize what it benefits the reader to read my article from A to Z.
It will be: 7 secondary employment conditions that demonstrate good employership.
The second structural element of my text is an intro. I usually write that last too, for the same reason as the headline of my article.
In my intro I summarize the core of the story together. At the same time, I want to make the reader curious to continue reading. That is why I decide to capitalize on the advantages for the employer. Because with good employment conditions, employers provide motivated, committed and sustainably deployable employees, I know from my research.
I emphasize that in my intro:
With good secondary employment conditions, you as an employer can make a difference for your people. You may soon think of a thirteenth month, travel allowance or company laptop. But have you ever considered these 7 conditions? With this you ensure motivated, committed and sustainably deployable employees.
Then I put the core of my story on paper. There are seven terms of employment that I would like to explain. I put those together. Under each condition I add what I mean by the terms of employment and what such an employment benefit can yield employers.
But of course I’m not there yet with a long piece of text. That is why I divide the information into several paragraphs. For online texts I like about five sentences per paragraph at. I also make sure that I discuss one topic per paragraph. Am I bringing up a new topic? Then a new paragraph follows.
Put your most important information first.
Good to know: every paragraph has a corezin. That is the main sentence of the paragraph. The rest of the sentences continue on that core sentence. Often the key sentence is at the beginning of the paragraph. This is also a smart approach with regard to online texts – which people often read while scanning. If you put the most important information first, you have a better chance that your reader will get your message.
Once the different paragraphs are on paper, it’s time to add subheadings. In this way I lead my readers through my text, as it were. I also try to convey the core of my story well. Handy for all those readers who don’t read my text letter by letter, but scan it.
For online texts I usually assume that I after two or three paragraphs place a new header. Personally, I’d rather read one too many than too few. Exactly how many subheadings you include in your text, therefore, depends on the length of your text.
In addition to subheadings, I can give my text extra structure with paragraphs. This is not always the case with an online article. But with a longer text, such as a long read or reconstruction, this fits well. You actually divide your long text into a number of chapters.
7. Sentence Level Structure
I also apply structure at sentence level. I do that with signal or reference words. Signal words indicate connections between sentences. An example:
Many employers and employees want to do something good for society. Therefore some employers offer the option to volunteer during working hours for a few days a year.
The reference words are the words in my text that refer to an earlier word, phrase or sentence. Think of words like this, that, this, that in what.
A clever premise I once read somewhere: make sure that every sentence contains a signal and/or reference word. Isn’t that the case? Then there may be a ‘gap’ in your text and the structure is not quite right. Good to check!
Every article has a head and a tail, so a clear conclusion should not be missing. I myself conclude with a bonus tip. I also add a call-to-action thereby encouraging the reader to read other relevant content on this topic.
Another idea: give a short summary, conclusion or recommendation in your conclusion. Or add an anecdote that refers to the beginning of your text. This way you round out your story nicely.
What also works well: ask your reader a question to encourage interaction or to make them think.
Finally, you can give your text extra structure with text formatting. For example, make words italics of vet, to emphasize them. Don’t overdo it, because then the effect will disappear.
- Add bullet points when you list examples or benefits;
- Place less important information in boxes;
- Add a quote or streamer to give your text ‘some air’;
- And don’t forget the links to other pages in your online texts!
How do you structure your texts?
Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.
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