As you know, I’m a writer not an artist. Nevertheless, I drew a picture to illustrate this article.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it), is to see how quickly you can identify what it is supposed to be.

Here’s the first image:


Any ideas?

Have a think before you scroll down.

Here’s the next part of the drawing, which might make it easier.


That might be all you need to tell what the drawing is going to be.

If you’re still not sure, here’s the next image:


Is it getting clearer now?

Here’s the next one:

Ooh, probably not much room for doubt now. But here’s the next image, so you can be certain:


And the next:


And the finished drawing:


How many images did you need to see before you could tell it was a mouse?

OK, I won’t win any art prizes. But, yes, it’s a mouse!

Actually, it’s not a mouse. It’s some lines that are supposed to represent a mouse. In order: Ears. Nose. Back. Tail, Legs. Eyes. Whiskers.

The lines I drew don’t even join together.

That was deliberate, because I learned in my psychology degree that the human brain has an amazing capacity to fill in the gaps and create a meaningful image. It’s one of the Gestalt principles of perceptual organisation, and is called the ‘law of closure’*.

This capacity acts like a shortcut.

What this means to you

We’re all so busy these days that any shortcut you can offer makes it easier for people to decide to choose you, your brand, your product or your service.

When it comes to writing copy about your business, you don’t have to include every single detail in order for your reader to understand what you’re on about. You only have to write enough for them to understand who you are, what you do, and whether or not you meet their needs. Then they need to know what to do if they want to take the next step.

As a copywriter, I can help you decide what to write – and what to leave out.

*For more on this phenomenon, please see my previous article Can you see the lion?

A note for recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers

If you write a job ad for an experienced accountant, you don’t have to tell them they will be dealing with tax returns, VAT returns and management accounts. They know those things already. Similarly, if you’re writing an ad for a senior manager, you don’t have to tell them they’ll be leading a team. Finally, you don’t have to tell anyone they will need to obey health and safety guidelines, or help the company achieve its targets. Those things are obvious. They’re just part of the job.

1 Comment

Why you need to find the feather | · October 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm

[…] written before that the human brain has the ability to fill in the gaps (see Your mission should you choose to accept it, and Can you see the lion). it means you don’t have to tell prospective customers things they can […]

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