Rare Find: An Easy-to-Read AND Super-Technical Blog Post

One of the things I hear a lot is that we can’t possibly make a certain piece of writing clear and engaging — the topic is just too technical or complex. I know that’s not true, but it can be hard to convince people that it’s worth even trying when all we have to look at is a dense economic text.

Richard Denison, who works on toxics for EDF, recently provided an excellent example of a blog post that makes a complex argument easy to follow. This post really pushes the boundaries for depth and length: It has 2,250 words and molecular diagrams! Here’s how he made it work:

  • He takes a clear position right from the headline, and does nothing but support and illustrate that position. He walks you through and doesn’t let you get lost in irrelevant details. That focus makes the substance much easier to take in.
  • The conversational tone makes you feel like you’re connecting with an actual person. And little touches remind you that the person you’re listening to cares deeply about what he’s saying: “…a wholly debilitative lung condition whose name speaks for itself: obliterative bronchiolitis.”
  • Finally, he uses headings, lists and structure wisely. Even if you don’t read every word, just skimming the headings and lists shows you how he’s building the argument and what piece of it is where. And if you do read the whole thing, it’s like having the Google map view in addition to turn-by-turn directions — it’s easy to see how things fit together and grasp the overall destination.

Again, here’s the post to check out. When everyone at EDF learns to structure posts this well, I will do cartwheels in the hallway!