Copywriting – readability

Journal of Arts Marketing Issue 07 – October 2002

Open to Persuasion
Making ourselves understood
We write copy to give people information about the events and activities that our organisations offer, and to persuade them to take action. Unfortunately we don’t always succeed:

What I dislike about some brochures is that it’s very difficult to get the information out of them.

Midlands Arts Marketing, Live and Direct: research into contemporary music attendance in Nottingham (1998)
We’re all well-educated, articulate people, so why don’t we get our message across? Well, the problem is that we are well-educated, articulate people and most people are not. Most of the copy that we write is incomprehensible to most people because they can’t read it. Readability is about whether a piece of text can be read successfully. There are two sides to this, namely: do they have the necessary technical skills to read it; and can they get meaning from it? Quite often people are able to read bits of what we write but cannot integrate those bits into a meaningful whole…
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