TL;DR When Enough is Really Too Much

Are you losing your readers with long, difficult posts?TL;DR: Lawyers like to use lots of words when a few are enough. It can make their blogs long and boring for readers.

Have you ever seen a comment “TL;DR” or “TLDR” on your blog? If so, you probably are one of the many lawyers who write too much. TL;DR is an Internet meme that stands for “too long; didn’t read.” Urban Dictionary says it is:

Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.

So what do you do to keep from being that nerd?

Watch Your Word Count

Long blogs turn off casual readers. If people are faced with an immediate need they may be willing to slog through 1000s of words, but your regular subscribers won’t. Keep your posts short. If a concept is complicated, break it up into a blog series. Otherwise you risk losing your readers halfway through.

Use Short Sentences

Your mastery of the semicolon may have impressed professors in college and law school, but it doesn’t impress the Internet. Complex sentences force your readers to go slowly and re-read parts they did not understand. That can double or even triple the perceived length of your piece. Break up your thoughts into short, digestible ideas and your readers will be able to bear with you longer.

Avoid Legalese

Nothing will lose your readers faster than words they don’t understand. Unless you specialize in legal malpractice, your clients probably didn’t go to law school. You don’t want your readers giving up on the important point you are making, so break it down for them. As a rule of thumb, if the word appears in Black’s Law Dictionary, you probably need to define it for your readers.

Use Introductions and Headings

Your readers like to know what to expect when they start reading. The “stub” – your lead paragraph – should chart a clear course. Then you can use headings to mark the way. Readers will feel like they’re making progress and will be more willing to read on.

Keep it Interesting

No matter how short your post, you can still lose readers if your topic is dull. But just because you are discussing loan agreements doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Spice up your blog with quotes, stories, examples, and illustrations. They will keep your reader’s interest and help them understand your point.

Let’s face it, law can be boring. But just because the topic is dry doesn’t mean you can’t get readers to follow you. By keeping careful eye on your structure, word choices, and article length, you can get clients to read all the way to the end.

Do you have other tricks that have helped readers make it through your content? Share them in the comments.

One thought on “TL;DR When Enough is Really Too Much

  1. Pingback: Are Your Posts Too Short? | Legal Linguist

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