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Reader’s Digest – a style to follow

A template for effective communication

The enormous popularity of Reader's Digest over 80 years suggests that they have learned something in communication techniques! The magazine therefore offers approaches that we can use in writing for the web:

You may or may not feel that Reader's Digest articles are ‘samey’, with articles edited and revised to a rigidly-imposed housestyle. But they understand their readership and know how to communicate effectively with it. 100 million people read the magazine in 48 editions and 19 languages, and content for national editions is sourced at least 50% locally so that readers do not perceive the magazine as being foreign to them – i.e. American in origin.

Their style has much to teach us about effective communication in evangelism. Pastor Josh Hunt suggests this approach should be integral to our communication.

People needing people

Almost every feature in the magazine is people-related. Even items designed to teach every-day medicine and health-care are full of personal illustration, or even personalized thus: "I am John's heart". The wise Christian communicator, whether she is a college lecturer teaching philosophy, or whether he is a Sunday School teacher for 5-year-olds, knows that people learn best through stories, anecdotes, and people-related illustrations.

Reader's Digest has some online articles taken from recent issues, with links to many of the different language and national Reader’s Digest editions. Guideposts uses a similar editorial style, from a Christian perspective.

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