Guff is the language of the bureaucrat. It is pompous, needlessly complex, and obscures understanding. The person who writes in guff uses long sentences, filled with stiff language, and technical terms.
Here is an example of guff from a legal nurse consultant’s website: “Screening Medical Cases For Merit – I will document the departure from the established Standards of Care. Identify the mechanism, degree and extent of injury, extent of recovery, short term and long term prognosis, future healthcare needs, and evidence of pain and suffering and show the direct casual connection between the acts of negligence and the alleged damages.”
First of all, the second sentence needs “I will . . . “ in front of it. Secondly, it is too long. The average reader would tune out before the end of the sentence. I evaluated the readability of this sentence using the Flesch Kincaid readability test. It provides a score roughly equivalent to grade level. This guff sentence has a reading level of 21.1 with 41 words in the sentence. Writers should strive for a Flesch Kincaid level of 10 or below and an average of 15-17 words per sentence.
How could we reword this to avoid guff?
“I will document the departure from the established standards of care. I will help you identify the mechanism, degree and extent of injury. I will assist you evaluate damages by summarizing the extent of recovery and the short term and long term prognosis. Further, I can help you identify the patient’s future healthcare needs and evidence of pain and suffering. I will locate a medical expert to investigate the causal connection between the acts of negligence and the alleged damages.”
This rewording brings the Flesch Kincaid score down to 10.6 with an average of 16 words per sentence. All I did was break the sentence up into shorter sentences and do a little rewording. Check the HELP file to learn how to activate the Flesch Kincaid readability test within Microsoft Word. The readability statistics are checked as soon as your spell checker is finished. Improving the readability of your marketing materials improves the likelihood you will attract your prospects. You communicate more effectively when you eliminate guff.
Learn more about how to create powerful copy that draws clients to you. Get the on demand digital download of a webinar on how to write marketing materials taught by Pat Iyer. Get details at Cash Copy: How to Supercharge your Marketing Materials. Watch the replay or buy the transcript.
Reference: Tom Sant, the Language of Success, American Management Association, 2008