Why is great writing like great design?

Eleanor Meecham | March 24, 2016

Great writing, like great design, is transparent.

A great writer puts meaning first, and leaves out anything that gets in the way.

You should only need to read a sentence, paragraph, webpage, or document once to understand it. If you have to go back and read it again, the writer’s done you a disservice.

Of course, there’s still room for personality and flavour. For example, many fiction writers charm us with the way they put words together — we enjoy their writing because it creates an atmosphere that feels good. But if we spend more time noticing the way they’re writing, instead of the story they’re telling, then they’ve gone too far.

Do you strive to write transparently?

If you’ve ever signed a contract that’s impossible to understand, or opened a stern letter that you instantly want to throw in the bin, you’ll know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of poor writing.

You can do better than that.

No matter what you’re writing, write in a way that makes your meaning clear. Use words your reader will understand, and leave out anything you don’t need. Use a tone that connects with your reader.

Treat others how you’d like to be treated — write how you’d like to read.

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.