Writers often worry about word count. Now that writing has gone digital, many also worry about character count, especially on platforms like Twitter.

The problem with word count

Is word count really what we should be worried about when character count is not an issue?

Word count tells only part of the story.

One word equals one word. But word count alone doesn’t give clues about how difficult a sentence or piece of work is to read.

That’s why we should also consider syllable count.

The case for syllable count

There’s no point in having fewer words if they’re a mouthful to say.

Copywriters in particular can fall into the trap of excessive syllables. (Hello, jargon and business speak.)

You’ve likely seen ads for products and services promising to maximize profitability. A simpler promise would be to increase profits.

Let’s do some quick maths:

Increase profits = 4 syllables

Maximize alone = 3 syllables

Maximize profitability = lol, I ain’t counting that mess.

One more for the road

Another example is fundamentals vs. basics.

Fundamentals = 4 syllables

Basics = 2 syllables—and it basically means the same thing.

Fewer syllables amount to less information to take in, interpret, process, and act on.

In some situations, focusing on syllables is more efficient than focusing on word count.

Feel free to argue. Or altercate. Whichever fits your syllable preference.