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Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little

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Some of the most important verbal messages we craft are also the shortest: headlines, titles, sound bites, brand names, domain names, slogans, taglines, company mantras, email signatures, bullet points. These miniature messages depend not on the elements of style but rather on the atoms of style. They require microstyle. Branding consultant Christopher Johnson here reveals Some of the most important verbal messages we craft are also the shortest: headlines, titles, sound bites, brand names, domain names, slogans, taglines, company mantras, email signatures, bullet points. These miniature messages depend not on the elements of style but rather on the atoms of style. They require microstyle. Branding consultant Christopher Johnson here reveals the once-secret knowledge of poets, copywriters, brand namers, political speechwriters, and other professional verbal miniaturists. Each chapter discusses one tool that helps miniature messages grab attention, communicate instantly, stick in the mind, and roll off the tongue. As he highlights examples of those tools used well, Johnson also examines messages that miss the mark, either by failing to use a tool or by using it badly. Microstyle shows readers how to say the most with the least, while offering a lively romp through the historic transformation of mass media into the media of the personal.


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Some of the most important verbal messages we craft are also the shortest: headlines, titles, sound bites, brand names, domain names, slogans, taglines, company mantras, email signatures, bullet points. These miniature messages depend not on the elements of style but rather on the atoms of style. They require microstyle. Branding consultant Christopher Johnson here reveals Some of the most important verbal messages we craft are also the shortest: headlines, titles, sound bites, brand names, domain names, slogans, taglines, company mantras, email signatures, bullet points. These miniature messages depend not on the elements of style but rather on the atoms of style. They require microstyle. Branding consultant Christopher Johnson here reveals the once-secret knowledge of poets, copywriters, brand namers, political speechwriters, and other professional verbal miniaturists. Each chapter discusses one tool that helps miniature messages grab attention, communicate instantly, stick in the mind, and roll off the tongue. As he highlights examples of those tools used well, Johnson also examines messages that miss the mark, either by failing to use a tool or by using it badly. Microstyle shows readers how to say the most with the least, while offering a lively romp through the historic transformation of mass media into the media of the personal.

30 review for Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I was expecting more of a how-to guide, but “Microstyle” is more a “field guide” categorizing new words, names, and short phrases. The approach is from the academic side instead of the practical side. The author describes twenty or so ways that words and phrases can stand out, good and bad. He does this by defining specific areas of how meaning, sound, context and social structure can lead the consumer of the short writing to think one way or another. Much of what is discussed is relationships – I was expecting more of a how-to guide, but “Microstyle” is more a “field guide” categorizing new words, names, and short phrases. The approach is from the academic side instead of the practical side. The author describes twenty or so ways that words and phrases can stand out, good and bad. He does this by defining specific areas of how meaning, sound, context and social structure can lead the consumer of the short writing to think one way or another. Much of what is discussed is relationships – how the word is related to other words or concepts. The almost two dozen short chapters each cover a specific way people think about the words they are presented. Each chapter has some academic background, a plethora of examples, and some discussion. Chapter topic examples include use of clichés, poetic sound patterns, and metaphor. What you don’t get in this book is specific instructions or checklists. It seems the best way to use this book is to read it for general knowledge, then create your phrase or name, then go back through the book to see how each of these relationships will impact how your consumer will understand your writing. This lack of how-to in the book was a disappointment, and I wonder whether the author neglected to make this easier because he’s also a consultant in the naming industry. My guess in this case is that the work is to some extent as much art as science, so the approach the author took makes sense. I was also surprised that the author re-used a number of examples to illustrate multiple different classifications. It makes you wonder if all those two dozen classifications are at root different if some of the examples are the same. Overall, I'm still looking for a book to help me write "little". I liked the “field guide” take on what makes short names, words, and phrases stand out. Just don’t expect to read the book and then immediately invent the next “Just Do It”.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erika Dreifus

    In the six years that I have reviewed books for The Writer magazine, I have written about books that help us write novels and some that assist in penning poetry. I have shared collections of interviews with famous authors and collections of essays by the same. Over the years, I have begun noticing – and bringing to readers’ attention – books that I could not have anticipated at the start: books about email, new media and other quite recent additions to our world. Microstyle: The Art of Writing L In the six years that I have reviewed books for The Writer magazine, I have written about books that help us write novels and some that assist in penning poetry. I have shared collections of interviews with famous authors and collections of essays by the same. Over the years, I have begun noticing – and bringing to readers’ attention – books that I could not have anticipated at the start: books about email, new media and other quite recent additions to our world. Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little by Christopher Johnson belongs to this small but growing sub-category of “books about writing” that I’ll bet few of us envisaged not all that long ago. It is a worthy addition. That’s because, in case you haven’t noticed, we are now living in the age of the micromessage. Don’t be alarmed: “Microstyle has been the secret knowledge of poets, copywriters, brand namers, political speechwriters, and other professional verbal miniaturists” for eons, Johnson assures us. But with the advent of status updates, six-word memoirs and Twitter, “everyone’s getting into the game.” Many of us may have a number of lessons yet to learn. This book, delighting in what may be standard but nonetheless little-observed elements of language, aims to help us master them. Johnson works as an independent verbal branding consultant, and his references to theorists (Roman Jakobson, Noam Chomsky, et al.) will reassure you that he did, indeed, earn a PhD in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. But in this remarkably readable book, Johnson makes accessible a number of ideas that, like it or not, most of us need to learn if we are going to thrive as writers in the 21st century. The book’s introduction cites the text’s four discrete sections – segments on meaning, sound, structure, and social context. Within them, you will find numerous examples of “verbal strategies that make very short messages effective, interesting, and memorable.” Like me, you may be left with lingering questions on something that seems devilishly more elusive: creating a “micro voice” of one’s own. Much of the book is devoted to highly interesting nuts-and-bolts instructions that will help you come up with your own domain names, taglines or similar micromessages. For instance, it’s important to get your message’s basic meaning right. “Otherwise,” writes Johnson, “you might end up, like Reebok, calling a women’s athletic shoe Incubus. An incubus is a demon from medieval folklore that rapes women in their sleep…. So if you aren’t absolutely certain what a word means, at least look it up in the dictionary.” Sound also matters more than you may have realized. Johnson advises that we “embrace people’s naturally lazy tendencies.” To this end, he offers a tripartite suggestion: “First, it should be easy to figure out what the sound is from the spelling. Second, it should be easy to pronounce. Third, it should be easy to understand when you hear it.” Also: Try to avoid “ugly knots of consonants.” But misspellings, which you might have thought could stop readers in their tracks, have their advantages. “In trademark law, misspelling a real word can make it easier to register and protect as a trademark,” Johnson says. Think Cheez Whiz and Rice Krispies. “In the world of domain names, all the correctly spelled single-word ‘.com’ domains have already been registered. So if you want to leverage the pithy meaning of a single word, you either have to spend thousands of dollars to buy a registered domain from its owner, or you have to get creative with your spelling.” Hint: “One of the best respelling techniques eliminates letters that aren’t necessary for punctuation.” Think Flickr. Certain misspellings “also make names more distinctive for search engines.” All of this is useful and instructive. But what is infinitely more challenging – at least for me – is something that Johnson saves until the end of his book: the microvoice. “Some people gain followers [on Twitter] simply by sharing popular links and news items, but others make quips and observations and otherwise use microstyle to create a micro voice,” he says. For now, at least, I know that I belong to the former group. Perhaps, in part by applying lessons learned in Microstyle, I’ll manage someday to create a microvoice of my own. A version of this review appeared in The Writer magazine. My thanks to the publisher for an advance review copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine Dober

    I picked this up on a remainder table and was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was. I hadn’t thought about micro messages before but now I notice them everywhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I spent many weeks reading this book. Not because it was difficult, boring, or laborious. Quite the opposite. I chose to read a few chapters at a time, then let Christopher Johnson's ideas and observations sink in and influence my work. Microstyle taught me a great deal, reminded me of truths I have forgotten, and reinforced my own approach to writing with brevity and creative expression. I guess what I'm saying is that Christopher Johnson made me feel smart. What's not to love? So now "Microstyle I spent many weeks reading this book. Not because it was difficult, boring, or laborious. Quite the opposite. I chose to read a few chapters at a time, then let Christopher Johnson's ideas and observations sink in and influence my work. Microstyle taught me a great deal, reminded me of truths I have forgotten, and reinforced my own approach to writing with brevity and creative expression. I guess what I'm saying is that Christopher Johnson made me feel smart. What's not to love? So now "Microstyle" joins the handful of other writing books I keep at arm's reach from my desk. On its pages I've highlighted big and small ideas that I know will continue to inform and inspire me as a writer and teacher of other writers. For instance: > "... many people think about language only when they're worried about getting it wrong." (p 10) > "... people could genuinely love language more if they shifted their focus from judgment and insecurity to curiosity and appreciation." (p 12) > "When I'm reading and writing, I'm hyperaware of the words and phrases I encounter and use -- not in an 'is it correct?' way, but in a 'how does it work?' way." (p 31) NOTE: This is so consistent with my own approach that when I read this sentence, I decided I'd like to take Mr. Johnson to dinner sometime. > "Telling a story, even just communicating a message, always involves deciding what to leave out." (p 83) > "A good metaphor leads people to make the inferences you want them to make." (p 99) > "When you want to give your message music, start where the poets do: with rhythm." (p 132) > "When people relax and get playful with language, they dip their toes into poetry without even knowing it." (p 134) And my favorite of all, from the first paragraph of his Epilogue (p 223): "Microstyle is the basis for everyday verbal creativity, the poetics of the vernacular." I love that phrase: "the poetics of the vernacular." I may add a new line to my business card: Poet of the Vernacular. Imagine!

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Damaso

    This is the first book I've read entirely on an iPad. Readers might want to mock a 246-page book on "Microstyle," a term which Johnson uses frequently in following his own "verbal branding" advice, for its length, but it is so full of examples drawn from The Onion, Twitter, the history of advertising, political campaigns, pop television, etc. that it offers practical advice on developing your "micro voice." His invented jargon aside, I think Johnson started the book with an interest -- word eco This is the first book I've read entirely on an iPad. Readers might want to mock a 246-page book on "Microstyle," a term which Johnson uses frequently in following his own "verbal branding" advice, for its length, but it is so full of examples drawn from The Onion, Twitter, the history of advertising, political campaigns, pop television, etc. that it offers practical advice on developing your "micro voice." His invented jargon aside, I think Johnson started the book with an interest -- word economy and the delights of the well-turned phrase -- and then joined his name consulting blog experience with refined research skills and a linguist's ambivalence (the writer takes language as the living, shifting thing that it is) -- to create an engaging cultural artifact. The references to social media observer Clay Shirky, Jaron Larier's You are not a Gadget, and the Attention Economy give the book its necessary context. The finish, then, feels less like Strunk & White and more like a sociolinguist geekin'-out. With all the attention paid to Twitter Wit, I was hoping to see a discussion of contemporary comedians, brilliant purveyors and pursuers of Microstyle, who often use the 140-character space as proving grounds for new jokes. This phenomenon felt missing in Johnson's treatment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I read this for the purposes of interviewing the author on Radioactive, however I found myriad connections between his thoughts on language and the essays I'm currently reading for my literary theory class in graduate school. I might just be a big ol' nerd, but it's fun to see how technology is quickly affecting the rules of language and literature. Also, a definite read for anyone interested in promoting themselves or their business online. Oh, and despite his admonishment of the grammar police I read this for the purposes of interviewing the author on Radioactive, however I found myriad connections between his thoughts on language and the essays I'm currently reading for my literary theory class in graduate school. I might just be a big ol' nerd, but it's fun to see how technology is quickly affecting the rules of language and literature. Also, a definite read for anyone interested in promoting themselves or their business online. Oh, and despite his admonishment of the grammar police, I will continue to bash those who can't discern the difference between they're, there and their.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike Violano

    A promising start. Then the author started slip sliding away on linguistics and the meaning of words, slogans and offered many, many, too many examples. A book on microstyle should practice the art of writing little or at least less. There are wise nuggets here but they are sprinkled among too many pages.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A great book on communication that is as useful as it is entertaining. I'll be thinking about the many illustrations offered for a long time. A great book on communication that is as useful as it is entertaining. I'll be thinking about the many illustrations offered for a long time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erica Cresswell

    This review refers to the 2011 copy of “Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little” by Christopher Johnson, PhD. It was printed by W.W. Norton & Company Inc. Here's an excerpt from the book jacket: “Once the province of professional wordsmiths, the art of the short message now is not only available to everyone but also increasingly important to our personal and professional lives.” I picked up the book because I wanted to learn how to tweet better. I found the book incredibly interesting. It was a bit This review refers to the 2011 copy of “Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little” by Christopher Johnson, PhD. It was printed by W.W. Norton & Company Inc. Here's an excerpt from the book jacket: “Once the province of professional wordsmiths, the art of the short message now is not only available to everyone but also increasingly important to our personal and professional lives.” I picked up the book because I wanted to learn how to tweet better. I found the book incredibly interesting. It was a bit more technical than I thought it would be, though I should have expected it to be since it was written by a linguist expert. Johnson is a a verbal branding consultant. He works at a top naming firm that developed the names Pentium, PowerBook, BlackBerry among others. The book starts out by explaining what “Big Style” is. Essentially our culture “conflates grammar and style with correctness because, until recently, most people wrote only when they were being formally evaluated: in school, in cover letters for job applications, and perhaps at work.” (p. 13) We really only think of language when we are worrying about getting it wrong. According to Johnson, style guides are essentially negative because they play on our insecurities. Language then is a source of potential humiliation rather than a source of pleasure. Microstyle is quite different from “Big Style” in that it is really about “language at play” -- even when it's employed at work. We use it all the time – whether it's for the purpose of coming up with a business name, or a baby name, or just anything that has a “nice ring to it.” Johnson maintains that Graphic design and copywriting are perhaps the most highly advanced form of microstyle. They “grew up together in the print ad, as developed by the creative team – an artist and a wordsmith working together to come up with a creative ad concept.” The “story” of microstyle really got started with the development of mass media in the 19th century. As an example Johnson tells us that author Oscar Wilde was a prominent figure in microstyle. The author was known as much for his witty epigrams as for his more “standard literary output.” For another literary example of microstyle at work look no further than William Carlos William's sparse poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” One might assume that the short messages are a result of an ADD culture but the author writes that microstyle is rather about simple economics. He calls it “metaphorical economics” (He makes reference to the book “The Attention Economy. Soundbite Culture: The death of discourse in a Wired World.”) Because the web removes “economic, editorial, and temporal barrier[s] to mass publication and distribution...it is creating a landscape of verbal messages that's competitive in the extreme.” We read differently on the web than we do when we sit down with a book in hand. Johnson explains that on the web we “scan, skim, and click around” in an effort to make sure we aren't wasting our attention on things that don't deserve it. Microstyle is about grabbing the reader's attention. Micromessages often feature the formal traits of poetry: rhyme, alliteration, assonance, structural parallelism. Micromessages also employ metonymy which evokes “complex situations via simple details” such as meaning, sounds, structure and social context. Microstyle's medium is “informal language, and its success is determined by passing attention and memory in an environment where countless micromessages compete.” So what makes a micromessage successful? Often it is the very same thing that makes a comment stand out in a conversation: unusual perspicacity or wit (p.209) Johnson explains that a microstyle message isn't a “treasure chest full of meaning” but rather that it is a message that “starts a mental journey and meaning is the destination.” It isn't a story but it hints at a story. Microstyle employs metaphor. Metaphor brings big concepts down to a manageable scale. It makes the abstract real and the complex simple. Metaphor “enables us to use ideas that are easy to think about as a way to understand more difficult ideas.” Metaphor is a staple of microstyle because it packs a lot of idea into a little message. Metaphor usually involves a kind of “implicit comparison”. Sometimes micromessages make their comparisons more explicit. Johnson discusses good metaphors as opposed to “bad” metaphors. He writes that a bad metaphor is one that either leads to undesirable inferences or fails to illuminate the target. A good metaphor leads people to make the inferences you want them to make. Often we're told not to mix metaphors but Johnson maintains that metaphors are in fact mixed all the time to great affect (p.100). A great example of microstyle is a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “Baby Shoes. For Sale. Never Worn.” This short little phrase raises so many questions for the reader. Why were the shoes never worn? Is the seller desperate for money and so on. Hemingway's “baby shoes” story inspired what are now called 6 word memoirs. The book “Microstyle” is replete with great examples of thoughtful 6 word memoirs. The book focuses a lot on branding as well. Whether you want to create your own personal brand or you're just interested in finding out why some slogans and brand names “stick” and others don't this book is an excellent resource. There is even a section on coining new words -- whether you're doing it just for fun, or because you're trying to find a name for your business or URL this book will teach you how to coin words that stick. The book is filled with humour as well. It's not all serious linguistics. For example, here's a quote about the “most ridiculous euphemism” Johnson has encountered as of late that being the term “pre-reclined” used by Spirit Airlines. He writes that the term is used “to describe the non-adjustable seats in its new Airbus A320s. Just imagine a flight attendant dealing with a confused customer asking how to make his seat go down: 'Sir, our seats are pre-reclined, which means you're already comfortable!'” Ridiculous, right? There are plenty of examples of brand failures in the book and success stories too --from little brands to big brands like Saatchi & Saatchi to Apple computers. One section I found interesting was when Johnson explains why Internet flamewars almost always degenerate into nitpicking about spelling and punctuation. I'm sure you're familiar with the term “flame war” but if not it is essentially an argument on the internet that usually begins with a negative or controversial comment and spurns many negative follow up comments. Johnson explains that the flamewar “online obsession” with grammar and style might be a sign of “the deep anxiety about communication that the web creates.” When “conversing” with people on the web we often know little about them beyond what they convey through their text so therefore the text is an easy target, an easy means to knock down someone's argument. For example, “how do you know anything about microstyle anyway? You misspelled the author's name!” It's an interesting absurd and childish phenomenon but maybe Johnson is correct that there's more to it – that we really do have deep anxiety about communication on the web. I totally recommend this book for everyone interested in language, personal branding, corporate branding, semiotics or just looking to make their tweets more attention-grabbing. It's also a fun read. Check out the website at Microstyle.Org and Christopher Johnson's blog TheNameInspector.com Enjoy!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lennart Guldbrandsson

    As a student of linguistics and a writer by profession, I liked very much that the book collected some of the best thoughts from diverse fields of linguistics and rhetoric that are handy for anyone who's writing - and nowadays, who isn't? I would have liked even more if the ending gave more of the same feeling that the beginning did, but the ending was a bit bland. But the beginning and middle are so good that the book's totally worth buying and reading. As a student of linguistics and a writer by profession, I liked very much that the book collected some of the best thoughts from diverse fields of linguistics and rhetoric that are handy for anyone who's writing - and nowadays, who isn't? I would have liked even more if the ending gave more of the same feeling that the beginning did, but the ending was a bit bland. But the beginning and middle are so good that the book's totally worth buying and reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Kent

    To quote the author, “Microstyle is really about language at play—even when it’s used at work”. A fun field guide for navigating the age of the shrinking message. Microstyle focuses on what makes short, well crafted messages so powerful. While I enjoyed the bulk of the book, it did feel like it lost its way a bit in the final chapter. Ending aside, I do find myself flipping back through various chapters for little tidbits of Microstyle maxim. Worth a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana Sheko

    I've used this book in writing interest group as an interesting way to write short pieces of different styles from prompts. The students enjoy it and I think, with a little more imagination it could be used in different ways. I've used this book in writing interest group as an interesting way to write short pieces of different styles from prompts. The students enjoy it and I think, with a little more imagination it could be used in different ways.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    Great examples of both great and terrible short messages... Especially liked the sixwordstories

  14. 5 out of 5

    Martin Tarpev

    Very useful for copywriters

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hermes

    Inconclusive

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clinton Huntemann

    Much more than just a list of tweets.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Graham Okely

    This book explains short messages. Some of the content would be good in usual English lessons at school. A good collection and discussion about the choice of business slogans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Your content: sliced, diced & cubed Thinking about language, says Christopher Johnson, is a “strange” activity. We think we know how to use language to express ourselves but we don’t really understand how language actually works, how words actually end up being expressive and meaningful. The linguist in Johnson reminds us that when we communicate the words we use don’t directly transmit the meaning. Rather it’s the other way around – the person we’re communicating with uses the words we send as cl Your content: sliced, diced & cubed Thinking about language, says Christopher Johnson, is a “strange” activity. We think we know how to use language to express ourselves but we don’t really understand how language actually works, how words actually end up being expressive and meaningful. The linguist in Johnson reminds us that when we communicate the words we use don’t directly transmit the meaning. Rather it’s the other way around – the person we’re communicating with uses the words we send as clues to form concepts and meaning. And Johnson wants us to be better at extracting more meaning out of fewer words. In writing in a Web age, shorter is better; it’s also an imperative. Language, Johnson says with characteristic glibness, is getting control of ambiguity so that it doesn’t come back and bite you in the ass. He gives us a microstyle field guide to getting by in a verbal wilderness by slicing the book into four sections: Meaning, Sound, Structure and Social Context. Each of the sections is sprinkled liberally with examples from pop culture, the slogans, headlines, tweets and ads that are our verbal commerce. He guides us to the principles he believes important: Clarity (“Tastes Great, Less Filling”), Push Buttons (“You Deserve a Break Today”), Metaphor (“The Other White Meat”) and of course Simplicity (“Just Do It”). “Microstyle” Johnson says playfully is a good primer if you’re ever planning to have dinner with Tina Fey. The book is also slick and entertaining more than it’s useful and instructive. (For useful and instructive you still can’t beat “Strunk & White.”) There isn’t a whole lot of substance. I kept asking myself “Where’s the Beef?” It’s fun but also a little fatuous and after about 100 pages it becomes a tad repetitious. But still, it’s a relatively short read and always distinctly readable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elinor

    I received this book through First Reads, and I was not disappointed! This will be a book that I plan to reference regularly as I work to be concise and clear in both my professional and personal communication. This is technically a reference book, but it really is more of an informational and inspirational reference than an instructional guide. If you're prone to wordiness, this book won't give you much in the way of direct advice to help you curtail that habit. But if you're already working on I received this book through First Reads, and I was not disappointed! This will be a book that I plan to reference regularly as I work to be concise and clear in both my professional and personal communication. This is technically a reference book, but it really is more of an informational and inspirational reference than an instructional guide. If you're prone to wordiness, this book won't give you much in the way of direct advice to help you curtail that habit. But if you're already working on crafting a short, simple message, this book provides some good tools to assist you. The book is divided into sections - Meaning, Sound, Structure, and Social Context - with subsections describing different facets of these categories and how they can influence your word choice. There are also concrete examples of both great micro-messages and not-so-great micro-messages, which are entertaining and informative.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Christopher Johnson's Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little is more than a style guide for the post-Twitter age but a guide on branding, blurbs, and compression writing in general. This is a very useful introduction to the art of small writing, and the skills necessary in order to do this effectively. With the advent of smartphones and social media guides, such as this, will become an essential part of a writer's reference library. Given that everyone is now a writer, whether it be on Facebook, Christopher Johnson's Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little is more than a style guide for the post-Twitter age but a guide on branding, blurbs, and compression writing in general. This is a very useful introduction to the art of small writing, and the skills necessary in order to do this effectively. With the advent of smartphones and social media guides, such as this, will become an essential part of a writer's reference library. Given that everyone is now a writer, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, personal blog/vlog, etc., style guides for effectively leveraging the format will be absolutely essential. The author offers many examples and a theoretic framework that is, thankfully, brief on jargon and clearly written. Highly Recommended. A must have for micro-writers...and ain't we all? Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I was chosen to receive this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Thank You! I am giving up. I just can't finish the book at this time. To be fair, I liked parts of what I read. Once I actually got into the chapters, the book improved. However, I am finding that the author is not holding my attention. I will probably give it a try again when I am on a school break. When I write papers, I tend to go over the word limit. I find myself cutting content repeatedly. I was hoping that this book w I was chosen to receive this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Thank You! I am giving up. I just can't finish the book at this time. To be fair, I liked parts of what I read. Once I actually got into the chapters, the book improved. However, I am finding that the author is not holding my attention. I will probably give it a try again when I am on a school break. When I write papers, I tend to go over the word limit. I find myself cutting content repeatedly. I was hoping that this book would give me some insights on improving that flaw in my writing. Instead, I found I was learning a lot about effective advertising. Not really my cup of tea.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Stone

    This is a well-organized book of tips on communicating well in short bursts. It's useful for anyone who wants to get a lot across in short messages. There are ample examples and top tips for artful alliteration, potent poetic pontification and practical, pointed prose. The structure is purposefully formulaic, with each micro-chapter no longer than four pages with a clear declaration at the beginning of each section and then a summary restatement at the end. I could imagine this being something I This is a well-organized book of tips on communicating well in short bursts. It's useful for anyone who wants to get a lot across in short messages. There are ample examples and top tips for artful alliteration, potent poetic pontification and practical, pointed prose. The structure is purposefully formulaic, with each micro-chapter no longer than four pages with a clear declaration at the beginning of each section and then a summary restatement at the end. I could imagine this being something I'd come back to read just one micro-chapter as a reminder, but it's nothing thrilling or mind-blowing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is a book about finding the crunchy hidden meanings of words and phrases and then using them to efficiently deliver a message. Most of the examples are from advertising or headlines, with a few movie and book titles thrown in. Then again, it's not so much a book about how to do that as it is a book about how others have done it. In that sense, it's not very successful. On the other hand, for anyone that loves words and writing and wants to think a little deeper about how words work, it's an This is a book about finding the crunchy hidden meanings of words and phrases and then using them to efficiently deliver a message. Most of the examples are from advertising or headlines, with a few movie and book titles thrown in. Then again, it's not so much a book about how to do that as it is a book about how others have done it. In that sense, it's not very successful. On the other hand, for anyone that loves words and writing and wants to think a little deeper about how words work, it's an interesting, light read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia K

    I won my advance reading copy through Goodreads. I now feel a lot of pressure to write an amazing review demonstrating that I paid attention to the advice of the author. I enjoyed this thoroughly modern style book that used lots of examples to illustrate its points. While the author's background is in business, anyone who needs to write or communicate can learn from his knowledge of linguistics and experience in branding. I won my advance reading copy through Goodreads. I now feel a lot of pressure to write an amazing review demonstrating that I paid attention to the advice of the author. I enjoyed this thoroughly modern style book that used lots of examples to illustrate its points. While the author's background is in business, anyone who needs to write or communicate can learn from his knowledge of linguistics and experience in branding.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trey

    I found this book to be kind of boring. Nothing in it was very enlightening with regard to concision, which is what I was hoping for. It's more about constructing meaningful messages in a 140-character age and, as a result, sort of gets into writing copy and how to make quality advertisements. I didn't finish the book, so I can't be 100% about it, but once I learned that it wasn't really about concision I tuned out. I found this book to be kind of boring. Nothing in it was very enlightening with regard to concision, which is what I was hoping for. It's more about constructing meaningful messages in a 140-character age and, as a result, sort of gets into writing copy and how to make quality advertisements. I didn't finish the book, so I can't be 100% about it, but once I learned that it wasn't really about concision I tuned out.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Bearden

    Ha! Didn't finish reading but I really am intrigued by this book and the author's background. He considers his book a "field guide" as opposed to a proscriptive approach to grammar of the grammar manuals of before. Fascinating. I've heard of microstories, too - don't know if he gets into those specifically or not. He has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and seems to mainly have worked as a verbal branding consultant. Fascinating. Ha! Didn't finish reading but I really am intrigued by this book and the author's background. He considers his book a "field guide" as opposed to a proscriptive approach to grammar of the grammar manuals of before. Fascinating. I've heard of microstories, too - don't know if he gets into those specifically or not. He has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and seems to mainly have worked as a verbal branding consultant. Fascinating.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    i'll admit that this book isn't what i was expecting it to be. either way, it was still an enjoyable lesson in concise writing, grammar, syntax, characteristics of language. etc. i'm not sure i'll be a noticeably better tweeter or blogger b/c of it - but maybe something will stick and i'll take better notice of some of my writing and pay more careful attention to the way i construct some sentences that i'm looking to add some punch to. i'll admit that this book isn't what i was expecting it to be. either way, it was still an enjoyable lesson in concise writing, grammar, syntax, characteristics of language. etc. i'm not sure i'll be a noticeably better tweeter or blogger b/c of it - but maybe something will stick and i'll take better notice of some of my writing and pay more careful attention to the way i construct some sentences that i'm looking to add some punch to.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This is the only book I know that offers thoughtful and useful advice to writers working onscreen rather than on the page. Christopher Johnson ground what he has to say about microstyle in research in linguistics and discourse analysis. His advice is sometimes repetitious, and sometimes less than startling, but I like how he offers ideas for thinking about style rather than simply rules to follow. A good book, which I've used in my last two courses on Digital Writing at Duke. This is the only book I know that offers thoughtful and useful advice to writers working onscreen rather than on the page. Christopher Johnson ground what he has to say about microstyle in research in linguistics and discourse analysis. His advice is sometimes repetitious, and sometimes less than startling, but I like how he offers ideas for thinking about style rather than simply rules to follow. A good book, which I've used in my last two courses on Digital Writing at Duke.

  29. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    Christopher Johnson, AB'87 Author From our pages (Nov–Dec/11): "Well before Twitter, poets, ad copywriters, and political spinners knew what branding consultant Christopher Johnson discusses here: some of the most important messages are also the shortest. Johnson examines why minimessages hit and miss, discusses the tools that make them memorable, and explores the evolution of mass media into more personal forms of communication." Christopher Johnson, AB'87 Author From our pages (Nov–Dec/11): "Well before Twitter, poets, ad copywriters, and political spinners knew what branding consultant Christopher Johnson discusses here: some of the most important messages are also the shortest. Johnson examines why minimessages hit and miss, discusses the tools that make them memorable, and explores the evolution of mass media into more personal forms of communication."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Sandford

    Interesting read, especially for language geeks interested in language for its own sake. Johnson talks about everything from the poetic effects of the sounds of words to the usefulness and danger of ambiguity. His ideas are interesting and well-articulated on their own and very useful for anyone using Twitter or involved with branding or copywriting. The book is full of real-world examples—both good and bad—that help illustrate his points and make them relatable.

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