When people take a writing course, they expect to hear a lot about the importance of clarity and conciseness. However, in my mind they are out of date on their emphasis.
Fifteen years ago, everyone was concerned about plain language and getting a message completely on one page. And often times to do this, they merely reduced the type font, decreased the margins and collapsed the paragraphs. But this is the one way to guarantee your ideas will not get read.
Today’s business readers are easily intimidated by a busy-looking page – whether it be a paper or screen document. They glance at the first paragraph and, if it appears lengthy, they immediately decide the document is going to be difficult to read so they skim it or put it aside for when they have more time. (And “more time” seldom happens.)
Now don’t get me wrong – clarity and conciseness are important in a business document. But if your document does not have visual appeal, readers will not take the time to find out you can write clearly and concisely.