Jan 6, 2009

Nine Rules to Avoid

Recently an article came into our editorial department from the "Publishing Executive" December 2008 issue about luring readers into actually reading your content. These are things to avoid. I thought I would share them with you. Whether you write fiction or magazine articles, they can apply.

Rule 1: Give'em more, more, more: Readers will decide to look at it later and we all know what later means.

Rule 2: Test-heavy means that's where the good stuff is: Too much text is certain death.

Rule 3: This issue is great: Readers take just 2-5 seconds to decide to read a page or not. (Terri's note: This is very true in descriptive heavy fiction.)

Rule 4: I'm not an artist: Think of your text as speaking. We stress what's worth stressing by our diction...do so in your writing.

Rule 5: Make headlines bigger: A small font in the same amount of space can be a big attention grabber. It says I'm important, look at me.

Rule 6: Headlines are the most important: Actually, captions are the most important. The photos draw the eye, the captions draw the interest.

Rule 7: Visual "wow": Be suspicious of visual fireworks, whizzbang, color, weird layouts and peculiar typefaces. They take away from the meat and become a "show" unto themselves.

Rule 8: The more color, the better: Never consider one page as individual, view it as part of a whole.

Rule 9: Design isn't critical: Think of it as editorial tool revealing content, organizing sequence, guiding the reader.

How do you feel about these rules?


  1. I am intrigued by those rules, Terri. Some of them contradict things I learned in a copy writing class...perhaps those rules are different? very interesting!

  2. Great post, Terri! I especially agree with your take on "descriptive heavy fiction". I'm reading such a book right now, and keep screaming to myself, "Where's the dialogue!"

  3. Since I'm still groping towards publication, I always appreciate the wisdom others send my way. Thanks!


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