The Sign Doctor   »  Step 10: Additional tips, techniques and golden rules

Step 10: Additional tips, techniques and golden rules

  1. It’s worth repeating again: Less is more!
  2. A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s gold dust when your limit is 100 words. It avoids long-winded explanations and creates added interest.
  3. Avoid jargon (or admin-speak) Write “helped” instead of “facilitated”, “complete” instead of “holistic”.
  4. Ask your visitors questions: “Can you imagine the reindeer’s endless search for lichen in the winter?”, or “Hero or villain, what do you think?”
  5. Limit your use of adjectives. Use descriptive, emotive words (joyful, gentle, determined, abrupt, pristine, etc). Nouns (words to describe a place, person or thing) should be powerful enough to stand on their own. Mark Twain once wrote to one of his students: “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them then the rest will be valuable”.
  6. Use the first person in your narratives (I, me, we, us) to tell the story from their perspective. It’s instantly more personal and engaging.
  7. Avoid clichés (as old as the hills, every cloud has a silver lining, etc.). Many people find them tired and unimaginative.
  8. Don’t teach or lecture visitors, instead, in the words of Freeman Tilden, provoke, relate and reveal. Provoke with an attention-grabbing title, relate using comparisons and metaphors to connect with people’s lives and reveal deeper meanings through your carefully crafted theme.
  9. Be ruthless and concise! Write, read and reread, eliminating any unnecessary filler words. Test a sentence without the word. If it still has the same meaning get rid of it.
  10. Be patient! Writing is rarely done in one day. Take a break, come back tomorrow and you’ll always see something to improve. After the deadline, you always spot something that could be better. That’s the beauty of writing, it’s a continuous process to develop your language skills and critical thinking.