Open for interpretation

The power of writing is universal: anyone has the potential to inspire others with their words.

But meaning—how people understand language—isn't universal.

Without the right words, you can inspire someone to do something you did not intend to or land the wrong message. Each individual brings language to their context and worldview.

Individual words and short phrases are open for interpretation, which is helpful in some instances. Nike's Just Do It and Apple's Think Different slogans inspire people to do sports and be creative. Short and abstract is not a bug in this case but a feature; everyone can adapt these messages to their lives.

When you want to ensure everyone gets the same picture—a set of instructions, a mission statement, a notice, a story—we need to remember that what's evident for the writer won't always be for the reader. Here's where redundancy comes into play: stating the obvious and the not-so-obvious helps a significant part of the readership to extract a similar meaning from a given message, leaving less room for interpretation.

September 20, 2022
Nono Martínez Alonso

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Pencil sketch of Nono Martínez Alonso.