“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
– Mark Twain
Writing better copy for websites, brochures, and business letters is hard work, but the impact is remarkable. Here are a few best practices to consider:
• Hire a professional copywriter if you can afford it. Be advised that the good ones are very busy and always booked.
• Write concisely and get to the point. People are busy and don’t have the time find your message in the copy.
• Remember people don’t read anymore—most readers scan. Use bullets and white space to help the reader find your important points.
• Avoid business-speak by not using meaningless phrases such as “committed to excellence”.
• Shorter words are best. Leave the big words for the lawyers and doctors.
• Avoid dead metaphors. A dead metaphor is an expression that has lost its true meaning. For example, consider the expression “son of a gun”—what does it mean? According to Wikipedia, it is a British naval slang term that refers to a child of questionable parentage conceived on the gun deck. Now that is meaningful!
• Write like Hemingway not like Shakespeare. Cut out the heavy or overly ornate language and use short sentences with real words.
• Edit your copy by reading it aloud to yourself—this will help you find dropped words or awkward phrasing.
• Have a third party read your copy. I guarantee that they will find mistakes that you missed.
• Use spell check. Duh.
Better writing helps you communicate better and sell more.
John Bradley Jackson
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