In the mid-1600s, French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal jotted off a letter. Known for his proclivity to use few words in his writings, Pascal offered his reader the following apology for his unusually lengthy note:
Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
In modern-day English, the phrase translates as:
I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.
Uses of the expression and variations of the original appear in writings from authors such as Benjamin Franklin, Cicero, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain. For that reason, people attribute the saying to countless different individuals. But the meaning is clear: It takes more time to compose a brief, concise message than to write a long-winded one.
At The Creative Block, we frequently encounter rambling in copywriting. From long taglines to 2,500-word webpages, most marketers subscribe to the more-is-better approach. When, in fact, readers want advertisers to get to the point.
Take websites, for example. Research shows that, on average, users only read 20 percent of a webpage’s content. Visitors want to spend as little time as possible, whether reading an online newspaper article, a blog post, information about your services, or a tweet. Even the appearance of a long read will detract readers from delving into your content.
When redesigning a new client’s website, we begin by rewriting their online content. As Pascal pointed out, effectively condensing text takes time. And reducing wordiness while remaining persuasive requires copywriting expertise.
Rather than apologizing for long-winded written content, contact The Creative Block for a free demonstration of how we can condense your text.