I Don’t Want to Read a Research Paper.

A phrase said by every single college student across pretty much every academic variety and something felt by most people when presented with the dense texts. However, in the world of magazine articles, a product built around keeping a reader’s attention, the balance between research paper-esque factual information and attractive sentence structure is an on going battle. If too much factual information is included in an unstylized manor, the article will come out as dry as the research papers its drawing from. If the magazine article draws too little of actual fact or even if it appears to just be made of opinions, the article will no longer be a credible source to learn something from. Right off the bat, engaging pictures and supporting infographics allow for a reader to be lulled into continued readership, but ultimately the language presented holds a large role in reader retention.

A dung beetle that raises some big questions.
From WikiCommons.

While the New York Times article “The Astonishing Weaponry of Dung Beetles”, only includes one, but also extremely catching, image at the start, this article provides a great demonstration of the sentiment presented above. This article, as could be inferred from the title, is a presentation of the various weapons available to the different types of dung beetles found around the world. However, this article does not read as research paper about these particular crawling animals might.

Instead, “The Astonishing Weaponry of Dung Beetles” is a well crafted and well written work. As a result, it sounds less like a teacher belting out facts at you at a speed you can’t truly comprehend, as many research papers do, but rather sounds much more like a friend explaining what exactly is the deal with those crazy poop rolling beetles. This is a key point to call upon when attempting to write an article for the audience of the real world, rather than students trapped in classroom under the guard of their teacher or a scientist being paid for their work.

Use words people would actually use.

In short, the tone of a piece will always reflect a mood back to the reader. If a dry and scientific tone is used when writing, the outcome will be the same. This is, of course, vice versa as well. To accomplish this, it is often helpful to make analogies or very simple descriptions that, while still accurate, dumb down the science sounding content to what a normal person’s speech would entail on a daily basis.

While there are a great number of tricks to writing something someone would actually want to read, the tone of a piece is one of the most important. It must be easy to understand and use words people would actually use. If a scientific word or advanced concept is required, then it must be broken down into simple pieces or you’ll run the risk of leaving your reader behind as they flee your article for a more entertaining part of the infinite internet.