Write for Readers

The title got me, and I immediately clicked through to read a health newsletter’s article about the “25 diet-busting foods you should never eat.” Strangely enough, the most valuable information was in the comments.

Rachel: “This author apparently walked through the supermarket and randomly targeted products. For every ‘diet buster’ they talked about, there are a million other products just as bad and much worse.”

M: “I don’t understand why you would not give the same nutrition information for each item. Half the time you left off carbs, but then it was there on some.”

Alicia: “I have to put a word in defending Amy’s Thai coconut soup. The saturated fat is from the coconut, which is naturally high in saturated fat but is still an extremely healthy fat. It’s not at all in the same league as standard saturated fats like bacon!”

The lesson: Don’t underestimate your readers. A fair number of them will catch your flaws in logic. They will notice if pertinent information has been omitted from an argument. They are not blank slates waiting for your article to tell them all they need to know about a subject. They read to be informed or entertained, and will get annoyed if they feel you are talking down to them.

Respect your reader’s intelligence and they will respect your publication.