Say more with less

One of the great things about print publications is that there’s never enough space.

On the internet, space isn’t a problem. Write more and scroll more. But in print, writers and editors are forced to squeeze everything into the space available; they can’t simply add pages at the back of the newspaper if they run out of room.

This lack of space stimulates discipline. Every article is edited to make it fit, and in that editing process all unnecessary words and details are removed. The idea is to say what you want to say as clearly and succinctly as possible. Then move on. That’s what makes newspapers and magazines (and printed newsletters) a quick, easy read.

When the editing process breaks down, as in the example Seth Godin cities in his post, Precision in language, we notice.

The trouble with the web is that the discipline of tight editing is a less obvious requirement. That’s a shame because it makes communication more difficult. Too many unnecessary words get in the way.

So when you’re writing anything — either in print or on the web — think: how can I say this as briefly and precisely as possible?