Need to Emphasize Your Words? Here’s How

One way to show that your written words are IMPORTANT!!! is to emphasize them with bold, italic, full capitals and end with a bunch of exclamation points. Unfortunately, that technique loses its impact quickly.

A full course of bolding, italics, capitals, underlining, and exclamation points has the same impact as shouting. It might get attention the first time but it will definitely annoy the longer it goes on. Better techniques involve framing the sentence or paragraph for emphasis, using repetition correctly, and engaging a professional graphic designer.

Frame a Sentence for Emphasis

When you have something important to tell your readers, take a chance and say it without the tantrum. For example, in the preceding sentence, you probably placed a stress on “without” although nothing in the sentence directed you to do that. The rhythm and sense of the sentence alone produced the stress on “without.”

Make sentences and paragraphs short–average 25 words per sentence and three sentences per paragraph. Information at the end of a sentence or at the start or very end of a paragraph is more likely to be remembered than information in the middle.

Use Repetition

Repetition creates emphasis if it is done correctly. Tell your reader what you plan to write about and then write about. At the end, summarize the information. But make sure each repetition is exact. If you promise to write about trips to Spain, Italy, and England, then write about them in th/at order and do not throw Portugal in the mix.

On the other hand, simply repeating one word (“this is very very very important”) has the same annoying effect overall as piling on exclamation points.

Engage a Professional Graphic Designer

A well laid-out page draws the reader’s eye exactly where you want it through font selection, color, graphics, and illustrations. Professional graphic designers work wonders that way but amateurs risk creating design overload.

Keep in mind this general rule of thumb: The more devices used to emphasize text, the less power any of them have.

In the best case, writers and graphic designers work together to give you marketing collateral that delivers your message with just the right jolt of emphasis. TWP Marketing & Technical Communications can help you find that perfect team. Contact us today.

Easy Steps for Sharper Writing

Recently, I was asked to edit some abstracts for a large conference. A fun project, and also educational in a way I didn’t expect. It alerted me to some common writing problems and the easy steps that any writer can take to fix them.

1. Overdoing the present participle. What is a present participle? Think “ing” verbs: “Our company is making the most unique product in the world” or “Electric cars are going to become more popular as gas prices increase.” Those sentences sound much more compelling in the simple present and future: “Our company makes the most unique product in the world” or “Electric cars will become more popular as gas prices increase.”

2. Overdoing the adjectives. Consider how many products in the world can make the claim of uniqueness and consider how very little the word “unique” (or “state-of-the-art”) actually explains. Far more striking is a sentence like “Our product reduces CO2 emissions by 50% year after year, more than any other product in the marketplace.”

3. Overdoing the repetition: “If you are worried about the security of your home, contact our experts to learn about the latest in home security products to increase your home’s security.” Repetition may be necessary to clarify information or to increase the SEO of a webpage; but circular sentences like the example waste space and are annoying to read. If the entire phrase “to increase your home’s security” were dropped, the meaning would actually be clearer and the sentence would be strengthened (at least a little).

Those three steps (avoiding the present participle, cutting back on adjectives and rewriting circular sentences) are guaranteed to strengthen and sharpen your writing. At TWP Marketing and Technical Communications, our goal is to make sure that our writing–and your content–means business.