June 3, 2006
Passionate convictions backed up by research, on the topic of what writing style works best…
“If you want people to learn and remember what you write, say it conversationally. This isn’t just for short informal blog entries and articles, either. We’re talking books. Assuming they’re meant for learning, and not reference, books written in a conversational style are more likely to be retained and recalled than a book on the same topics written in a more formal tone. Most of us know this intuitively, but there are some studies to prove it…”
“…Unless the book is a reference book, where precision matters over understanding, and the writing is meant to be referred to not read and learned from, there are almost NO good reasons for a tech book to be written in a formal (i.e. non-conversational) style. Much of the time, it’s an indication that the author is thinking way too much about himself, and how he will be perceived…
“A study from the Journal of Educational Psychology, issue 93 (from 2000), looked at the difference in effectiveness between formal vs. informal style in learning. In their studies, the researchers (Roxana Moreno and Richard Mayer) looked at computer-based education on botany and lightning formation and “compared versions in which the words were in formal style with versions in which the words were in conversational style.”
Their conclusion was:
“In five out of five studies, students who learned with personalized text performed better on subsequent transfer tests than students who learned with formal text. Overall, participants in the personalized group produced between 20 to 46 percent more solutions to transfer problems than the formal group…”
Read the full post and more research findings on the Creating Passionate Users website.