This passage on how to write a headline is fantastic.
And it cuts to the heart of the issue.
For concise clarity should be the main issue in writing.
Actually, it should be the main issue in any form of communication.
Noise, noise, noise – and people are easily confused.
Be clear with people. What is the take-away they need to know?
Political analyst preach this need for clarity, marketers preach this, heck pastors preach this.
I’ll let Greg McKeown tell the story:
Charlie O. Simms taught a Journalism 101 class in Beverly Hills High School. He started the first day of the class Ephron attended much the same way any journalism teacher would, by explaining the concept of a “lead.” He explained that a lead contains the why, what, when, and who of the piece. It covers the essential information. Then he gave them their first assignment: write a lead to a story. Simms began by presenting the facts of the story: “Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.” The students hammered away on their manual typewriters trying to keep up with the teacher’s pace. Then they handed in their rapidly written leads. Each attempted to summarize the who, what, where, and why as succinctly as possible: “Margaret Mead, Maynard Hutchins, and Governor Brown will address the faculty on …”; “Next Thursday, the high school faculty will …” Simms reviewed the students’ leads and put them aside. He then informed them that they were all wrong. The lead to the story, he said, was “There will be no school Thursday.
–Greg McKeown, Essentialism