Does Size (Length) Really Matter?

TL; DR. The acronym means ‘too long; didn’t read’ and gets a bad rap because the user is labelled lazy and rude. But is that true? How many of us are guilty of this without typing it to let the author of a piece know? I know I am.

As much as I love reading and being informed, the truth is, if I happen upon an article and 500 words in, the point has (or hasn’t) been made, it begins to turn into gibberish and I’m looking forward to the end only to find other thousand or two words, I’m leaving. And my reason would be TL;DR, though I am not likely to write that. It’s for this reason that I rarely put out any content longer than around the 1200 word mark. I would much rather preserve the quality of my piece and have it be entertaining or informative (whichever it was designed to do) by getting straight to the point. I’ve come across so many articles that started out great but ended awfully, because of the forced word count.

To give an example, when I was in school I was the girl who was flabbergasted at the need for my peers to demand an extra two or three sheets in an exam to finish up an essay type question. I just did not get it, what were they always writing so that I could not think of?! And yet, when the results were revealed, my mark was higher or the same. Why? Because I get the point, saying what I need to say with clarity.

So it begs the question; is the length really that important? The answer is yes, though not  in the way most content creators think. As a reader, I prefer to read a 700 word piece that is to the point over a 1500 word piece that causes you to stop half way through and skim the article for bits and pieces of why you opened the article in the first place. With a piece like that, when the skimming produces nothing and the reader realizes they will have to finish the article and hope the meet of the matter is there somewhere, 9 times out of 10, the reader will leave without finishing.

Similarly, if the information has already been presented and there are 1000 words filling spaces, the reader will also choose to stop reading.

So the next time you put out a rather long piece that you think is great because of the word count, you may want to assess whether same has compromised your content quality. After-all, how will you know if the larger portion of your audience has been bidding you a TL;DR without saying so?

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