Add Numbers or Statistics in Every Sentence

Generalities are hard to understand, and often they're dull and uninteresting. Converting general statements into specific statements engages readers' interest by increasing believability. One of the easiest ways to add specificity is to add numbers or statistics.

For example, if you send an E-mail to your boss informing him or her that the holiday party you were charged with organizing will come in under budget, that's good news, but some bosses might say that it sounds too good to be true. If, however, you report that the holiday party will come in $467.32 under budget, that's credible. Adding the specific number automatically enhances believability.

Instead of "Everyone had a good time at the conference," say "Ninety-four percent of conference participants reported they had an excellent or very good time." Instead of "The need for creative waste management solutions is increasing each year," say "With solid waste increasing at over 14 percent a year, the need for creative waste management solutions becomes more urgent each year."

Henry, who owns a commercial printing company, explains that he writes collection letters to customers whose bills are overdue. "When an account is more than forty-five days past due, I send a letter. I used to say, 'Your account is overdue.' Now I say, 'Your account is more than fifty-two days overdue.' Adding the number of days makes my letter more powerful."

Notice that small changes generate big benefits. As you read the following alternative sentences, consider which one of each pair is more credible.

1. The summer picnic was well attended.

2. Sixty-seven employees attended the summer picnic.

1 After completing the attached forms, submit them for credit approval. 2. After completing the attached five forms, submit them for credit approval.

1. Mandy Jones had questions about the proposal.

2. Mandy Jones had three questions about the proposal.

Adding numbers is an easy way to beef up your content. It helps people understand your points and makes the text more believable.

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