A reader emailed me yesterday to ask for good resources to improve her writing. Excellent request. If you want to improve your copywriting, here’s my advice!
1. Focus! What’s your point? Stay with it!
2. Show, don’t tell. Provide examples. Your readers want proof.
3. Be ruthless. Cut any word that you don’t need. Your readers are busy, so bring your point to life as succinctly as possible.
This one takes practice. Syntax Training offers a page of tips including a 70-word paragraph that has been slashed to 30. And watch out for these common phrases:
|for the purpose of||for|
|the majority of||most|
|in order to||to|
|provide an introduction||introduce|
|on a daily basis||daily|
|on a regular basis||routinely|
Here’s another tip from Business Writing Tips: try getting rid of the word “very” and convert the adjective it modifies to a stronger adjective. You’ll also save a word in the process.
|very small||tiny, puny, compact|
|very hot||torrid, scorching, sultry|
Here’s their tip #326 (they have hundreds): Don’t hide the action in your sentences by using nouns and adjectives. Watch words ending in “ion,” “ment,” “ance,” “ence,” and “ing.”
|His presentation produced a disappointed reaction among the clients.||The presentation disappointed clients.|
|Programmers help from a system implementation perspective.||Programmers help to implement systems.|
4. Follow important rules. Please make sure you’re using contractions, punctuation and sentence structure correctly. Grammar mistakes hurt credibility.
Possession: We all see “it’s/its” and “you’re/your” misused every day. Here’s an easy way to check for accuracy.
|If you can say||Use||Else use|
Here’s another one: Do you know which version is correct?
|1||ifs, ands or, buts||if’s, and’s, or but’s|
|2||in’s and out’s||ins and outs|
|3||dos and donts||dos and don’ts|
|4||pros and cons||pro’s and con’s|
(If you’re not sure, check your answers at Business Writing Tips.)
Passive vs active tense: Here’s another common mistake that dampens impact. There’s an excellent overview at Syntax Training.
|The surface should be primed||Prime the surface||Readers need precise instructions|
|Your gift is appreciated||We appreciate your gift||“Is appreciated” sounds impersonal, whereas “We appreciate” feels warm.|
Want more? Here are a few good books, blogs and sites:
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