Posted in Blogging

Writing Tip: How does that line sound?

As Instructional Designers, we design instructions. We create courses about how to do certain things, may be run a software, mobile phone, or a crane… To ensure that learners remember the said instructions, we make them easy, and at the same time, interesting and strong, and professional. Formatting words correctly plays an important role in the process. 

Have you ever wondered why a certain line you wrote sounds different than you intend? Somehow it sounds, sharper and angrier? Why the person you sent an email to never saw the link you shared? Or why they are suddenly avoiding talking to you?

Have you been using CAPITAL letters a lot? Or may be boldfaced it with an underline?

Read through the lines below to see the effect of each formatting.

You may leave now and need not come back. (Statement of fact?)

You may leave now and need not come back. (Order?)

You may leave now and need not come back. (Order?)

You may leave now and need not come back. (Angry order?)

YOU MAY LEAVE NOW AND NEED NOT COME BACK. (Shouting?)

The same sentence sounds different in our mind when formatted differently. While you may be using different formatting to bring certain actions to people’s notice, they may read it as an angry order or shouting. When not meeting a person face to face, people find it difficult to interpret their mood. Make it easier for your audience to understand, by following the formatting rules.

  • Use boldface only to highlight certain words not the entire line.
  • Use underline to show it is a link.
  • Avoid boldface and underline at the same time.
  • Use ALL CAPITAL letters where you want to sound like shouting. (I’d prefer it to be happy shouting, like YEEEEEE! But I leave it up to you.)
  • To bring certain actions to notice, just add a boldface ‘Note’. e.g. “Note: Get this done on priority.”

Please note that ALL CAPITAL is considered both unprofessional and difficult to read. I avoid it all the time, only resorting to it when the shouting out loud emotion cannot be captured otherwise. Even then, I use it only for certain words for emphasis.

I hope it helps. Let me know if you disagree through comments.

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Author:

I am an Instructional Designer, avid reader, small-town woman and working mother with a fish-eye perspective. I have just published my first book, The Forest Bed and other short stories. If you like my stories on this blog, feel free to Like, Comment, Reblog and Share. You can reach me at shailygrwl@gmail.com or through my Facebook page facebook.com/shailyagrawalwrites/

9 thoughts on “Writing Tip: How does that line sound?

    1. Thanks John! It is one of the most common writing mistakes. Most of began writing in bold face, then add underlines for important stuff and end up using ALL CAPITALS for the things that matter the most. The worst part is that ALL CAPITALS is rather difficult to read and do not stay in memory for long.

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