Content Writing for Any Reading Level

Something you really don’t want when presenting information to your audience is for them to scratch their heads, not having understood what they’ve just read. High levels of writing might be appreciated by the academically inclined, but those less familiar with the subject will become discouraged and click away.

If you want the information to be as accessible as possible, you’ll have to dial down the Greek, and think like an educator.

Sometimes, the simplest solution is also the best solution; use fourth grade writing. If you find yourself opening a new tab and searching “fourth grade writing prompts”, then allow this guide to save you the trouble with three, simple tips!

Guide To Writing for Any Reading Level

  1. Understand Your Audience

Who are you writing for? It might make sense to use complicated language when writing a physics report to your peers, but your followers on social media are going to have a harder time grasping the material.

Write at a fourth grade level.

2. Put The Thesaurus Away

For some, this is a habit from the early years of grade school, when learning to use different words to avoid repetition. For others, it’s simply too tempting to show the reader an impressive vocabulary. Casually including “antidisestablishmentarianism” in your content might feel good, but it’s also a dyslexic’s nightmare (and you probably had to re-read it a few times or skipped over it entirely).

Don’t be afraid of repeating the same word a few times, if it means your content is easier to understand.

3. Utilize Common Knowledge

What constitutes as ‘common’ knowledge is sometimes up for debate, but if a fourth-grade student can grasp the general idea, then you’re on the right track.

This isn’t limited to topics either; you can use commonly understood concepts to bridge the gap of understanding between basic and complex. For example; “search engine optimization” can be described as making it easier for users to find your website when they search for something online.

In a word; simplify.

Everyone likes to feel intelligent, and nobody likes to feel unintelligent. Write so that your audience can understand in a way that won’t alienate them. This is especially important in the realm of marketing when you want to convince your audience to take some sort of action.

It might be helpful to think of it like this; you are writing a cookbook, and your audience is in the fourth grade. You can’t list to a fourth-grade student the ingredients to make a New York cheesecake and expect them to understand what they need to do. At the same time, too much detail and technical language will confuse them. You need to take them step by step, using basic language, and explaining each step as it comes up.

For users, your content should feel like a learning experience, not a frustrating one. If they can already get something out of just reading your content, they’ll feel more inclined to follow up on your call-to-action.

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