How to Cast a Spell On Your Next Blog Post

How to Cast a Spell On Your Next Blog Post

Want to learn a cool trick? It lets you cast a spell that makes folk soak up each word on your blog. And I’ll show you how to do it right now.

But first, let me tell you why you need to learn how to cast this spell:

  • Your blog will be a snap to read.
  • Each point you make sinks straight into your fan’s brain.
  • Your words will hit so hard that folk ask how on earth you do it.

Best of all, when you cast this spell on your blog, there’s next to no chance that you’ll get caught. Most folk are blind to this trick.

Here’s the spell:

Write with one-syllable words as much as you can.

Words that have just one sound don’t need to be read. Your eyes see them and soak them up. And one-syllable words make blog posts a breeze to read.

When I show this spell to my friends, they tell me that I’m mad. They say that short words and sounds rob a post of its clout and make it weak, dumb or slow.

They’re wrong. The truth is that most folk don’t care how you write. They don’t judge your work like your peers do.

All they know is: “Does this piece feel hard to read? Is it work? Or does it light up my brain when I look at it?”

Short words do that. Most of the time, long words don’t.

Need more proof? Go back and read this post again. You’ll find that – save for the word ‘syllable’ – no word has more than one sound.

Now go grab your wand and make some magic of your own.

Post by Ian Harris

Ian Harris runs Rockstar Comms, a blog about internal communication that helps companies talk to their staff. He also sometimes uses more than one syllable, with no apologies.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. This is true. Using one-syllable words on your blog post makes it easy for your blog posts to get read. It follows the same concept of having short lines on your content. Thanks for the post, Ian.

  2. Fascinating. We’re all so focused on using long complicated words that we forget that simplicity rules. A great reminder for us all. Thanks Ian.

  3. so true! One syllable words are easier to read and understand. I have visited the blogs where their words are complicated and unappreciated (two syllable words)! Telling stories that are not old or heard too many times too…and quotes are great just not when it’s all quotes on their blog. Putting a spell on your blog is the answer my friend.

  4. Hi Ian,

    Neat topic.

    Are we writing to connect with our audience or impress our audience? We are a very impression-driven society. Buy the biggest house possible, even if it bankrupts the rest of your life so you can impress others, even strangers that drive by that you will never meet. Writing with multisyllabic words appears to be another derivation of that mentality. We have to show we are smart and that must be the way. I’ve read letters to the editor that had so many big words I didn’t comprehend what message the writer wanted to convey.

    It all boils down to making connections. Thanks!


  5. Cool!

  6. Great point. Love it. Thank you for bring to light such a useful point. I write to get my points across. No more. I don’t care to show how many years of schooling I had. Frankly, if I get caught up in that, then I’d miss the point of why I write. When I think about it… for the most part, I read blogs or articles just to “get it” and hope that the experience is a fluid one. So why wouldn’t I provide the same to my readers?

  7. There is another multiple-syllable word in your post, other than syllable.

    • Oh ha, is there? Between Ian and I, we worked hard to try to catch them all – it’s tougher to write this way than people think!

      I’ll leave the word in; let’s make it a “spot the mistake” challenge.

      • Great read. I found the multi-syllable word. I’m finding myself wondering if you put it in there to get guys like me to go back and read the whole blog AGAIN. :-)

        Thanks for the insight!

  8. Need to try this trick in spanish. Seems hard(er)

  9. Good writing is varied, with longer words and sentences as well as shorter. What makes writing good is not short words, but rather thorough editing. If the writer does the job correctly, the result is tight prose that becomes invisible, and the message shines though. Thanks for raising an interesting topic!

  10. Hold on. In college my professor taught me to use big words so I could sound important. I think I’d rather side with the Establishment on this one. Big words convey a sense of significant and intellectualism. The more you say the same thing in a different way, the more you cover up your own ignorance and lack of knowledge. Multisyllabic synonyms are the writer’s best friend, you know. [Please catch the sarcasm]

  11. It’s magic!

  12. For those who feel longer words are a good thing, try this:

    It’s quite delightful that you’ve found this perspicacious material to be of your pleasure, and we wholeheartedly believe that if you diligently follow its suggestions, you’ll benefit from numerous results!

    Well written, well said, and well edited, but quite frankly, that sentence could be summed up thus:

    We’re glad you like the post, and we’re sure if you try it out, you’ll like the results!

    From umpteen syllables to just a handful, concise, tight copy wins every single time. Hands down. :)

  13. Wow.

  14. I find it more difficult to read. I’m weird. By the way, this only applies in English, doesn’t it?

  15. Hmm, I feel a bit dumb now. Why has this never occurred to me? Good stuff, but it is certainly not too easy to pull off.

  16. This is a great idea for short posts, but what about the pillar articles?

    Does it also depend upon the niche you are targeting? I’m a scientist and as much as I try it does tend to come across in my posts.

    Overall as long as you write in a conversation fashion and break up the text into paragraphs or even sentences which are suitable for viewing online vs a printed book you should be fine. Nothing worse than massive chunks of text on a blog.


  17. What a sad indictment of our culture that most people find polysyllabic words to be “too much work”. Are we really that lazy?

    When I write I never worry about using a long word or a short word. I try to always use the right word; the one that best expresses my intent. If someone needs to look up a word I’ve used in the dictionary from time to time, well I’m sure it won’t do them any harm. If that person finds it too uncomfortable to encounter words that require thought, then my blog is not likely to have much to offer them – I enjoy tackling big ideas and wrestling with complicated issues, and my blog tends to reflect that.

    When it comes to readers I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week. Just my 2¢.

  18. In the fast paced world of ever increasing mindless content, one syllable words rule the day. However, it follows that attempting to stick to this one rule, will allow readers to quickly forget what was read.

  19. Ian, I agree with so much of what you say—the Anglo-Saxon words are stout (and they have clout). In so many contexts, the direct message is the best, and is the one that resonates. But I have to agree with Mike above in thinking that some compositions, whether treating the concrete or the abstract, just aren’t served by one-syllable strictures. Sometimes “hot” just doesn’t hit it; it must be “searing.” And when the knife sinks in, “cut” doesn’t always cut it, but “lacerate” will.

    For some writers, it’s not an unnatural padding or fluffy flourish that brings them to use polysyllabics; it’s a finer attention to nuance and elaboration, and sometimes an urge to play with language that’s not afforded by skinnier syllables. For me, it’s best to mix it up: yeast, flour (and a pinch of cinnamon).

    • Tom and Mike – you’re right, you can certainly take this too far. (And for one thing, you’d never eat – it took me about 2 or 3 hours to write that short post!)

      I suppose the hypothesis I was trying to formulate was that there exists an inverse correlation between multi-syllable literature and a measurable effect on the addressee.

      Or, to put it another way: use more syllables and you’ll make less sense.

      Obviously, that’s not always true. Long words only correlate with bad writing – they don’t cause it.

      Flicking through my copy of John Carlton’s “Power Words”, there are plenty of four and five syllable humdingers that light up parts of the brain no grade school language can touch.

      I actually think long words and short words create a powerful contrast that not enough writers exploit.

      I didn’t include this in the post, but sometimes you might want to keep one or two sentences deliberately constricted just to create contrast with other parts of your copy.

      You could begin a simple story. Create some suspense. Keep the language taut, tight, clipped and coiled.

      Then ignite the power keg with a firestorm of language — a sustained blitz of English crammed with explosive verbs and emotional triggers — that stuns your reader with multiple ideas that ricochet around their brain in an all-out assault on their mind.

      You see? (I’m pretty sure there’s a name for this – anybody smarter than me care to help?)


      • Ian, there’s definitely a name for that: it’s the plot for Bridesmaids. Bah-da-bing. (Sorry.)

        But I do agree that you draw a reader in with varied rhythm in sentence length, pitch and cadence. Throw in some drum rolls, a piano solo, a searching flute line and a crescendo crash of cymbals, and let’s call it lunch.

        For me, a one- or two-word sentence can often give a piece of writing more punch. But as we’ve discussed here, it all depends. Thanks for expanding on your thoughts.

  20. I am fascinated! I don’t think I’d incorporate this all the time- some consistent readers would notice the complete change, but I’m definitely going to try it out.

  21. I think this is a fact you’ve mentioned as most of us know that web users scan pages first instead of reading them. So, those one-syllable words you recommend are the ones the so-called readers can scan easily and fast.

    I think even titles should be possible to scan fast too. There’s a tendency to make press release titles too long and complicated to read. This wouldn’t help business owners either.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Travel Marketing Platform

  22. Simple words, conversational tone and a mix of short and long (but not too long) sentences and different paragraph sizes to weave quality content can be an approach to create and sustain readers’ interest.

  23. These tips are useful for writing pages on a website too. If you are going to be long winded, make it as readable as possible, right. Magical! Cheers!

  24. I have to agree with Mike Manz. I always try and write the BEST quality article and I choose my words that I believe best fit what I am trying to convey.

  25. No.

    Hell no.

    I get your point and see its validity, but this advice is SO not for me.

    I decided years ago to never, ever dumb down my vocabulary. Language is my favorite part about writing – the pleasures of wordplay, the thrill of complex and interesting words – that’s what turns me on about writing.

    I believe my readers are also turned on my dynamic language. If people I am speaking and writing to don’t recognize a word I’ve shared, they get a whole new chance to learn something new. Same goes for my own reading – new words thrill me and awaken me.

    I have no interest in lulling anyone into a stupor with monosyllabic writing.

    Again, I’m sure this is good advice for some. But not for all.

  26. This makes a lot of sense. I guess I’ll be spending the next few months rewriting website pages into shorter syllables. Thanks for the great tip.


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