Author: Christopher Johnson | Filed under:

Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little is a field guide for the age of the incredible shrinking message.

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, bullet points, tweets, Facebook status updates. These miniature messages depend not on the elements of style but the atoms of style. They require microstyle. This book 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 it highlights examples of those tools used well, Microstyle also examines messages that miss the mark, either by failing to use a tool or by using it badly. It 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.

Microstyle was published on July 25th, 2011 by W. W Norton & Company.

Table of Contents



1. Be Clear

2. Choose the Right Word

3. Paint a Picture

4. Push Buttons

5. Evoke Specific Situations

6. Zoom In on Telling Details

7. Tap into Metaphor

8. Use Ambiguity for Good, Not Evil

9. Say the Wrong Thing


10. Keep It Simple

11. Give It Rhythm

12. Play with Poetic Patterns

13. Make the Sound Fit


14. Break the Rules

15. Coin a New Word

16. Make a Play on Words

17. Combine Words Artfully

18. Use Grammar Expressively

19. Repeat Structures

20. Teach an Old Cliché New Tricks


21. Evoke Conversation

22. Establish a Relationship

23. Create a Microvoice




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