When writers are trying to impress, a tendency they often have is to use long and obscure words. You might see penmen trying to dazzle readers with words like ‘crepuscular’, ‘pulchritudinous’, ‘quaquaversal’, ‘verisimilitude’ and ‘iconoclastic’. This is all well and good and there’s certainly a place for grandiose language, but are you confusing your writers rather than impressing them?
Rather ironically, the word for a style of speech or writing that uses too many long words is ‘sesquipedalian’. When writing for academic purposes, or in broadsheet newspapers with highly educated readers, a sesquipedalian style might help bring an air of sophistication and culture to your piece. In most cases though, it will leave the reader at best reaching for a dictionary, or at worst losing focus and giving up on the article.
For business blogging, it’s usually recommended to aim for a highly accessible style of writing that doesn’t assume your reader has an extensive vocabulary. This doesn’t mean your writing needs to be dumbed down or boring, but it should generally use words the average Joe knows and understands.
There are tools on the internet that can give you an idea of the reading age of your writing, such as the one offered by TheWriter.com that applies the Flesch-Kincaid scale to give it a score. The content management tool WordPress is now able to assess the readability of your writing too, using a colour-coded system.
If you’re worried that your writing isn’t quite on point, try our Business Blogging for Beginners course, which thankfully is written in plain English!