Ten tips for writing clear copy

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One key goal of writing is to communicate with the reader. You might want to discuss an important topic, sell your product or service, talk about your company, describe strategies for reducing costs, or some other purpose. Whatever your goal, it is important to write clear copy that the reader will understand.

Follow these 10 strategies for writing clear copy:

  1. Put the reader first. Address the reader directly (e.g., You will find…). When writing the copy, ask yourself:
    • Will the reader understand what is written?
    • Does the reader know the terminology?
    • Does the copy say something new or useful?
    • Would the copy persuade the reader to do something?
  2. Organize your selling points. Write all key points in order, and order them in the copy in a logical order. The headline should state the main selling proposition. The first paragraph or two should expand on the main point. Secondary points should follow under subsequent subheads.
  3. Break content into shorter sections. Cover each main point in its own section. Use numbered points if sections contain ordered content. Use bullets if order is not an issue. Break each main section up with subheads. Keep paragraphs short.
  4. Use short sentences. Try to keep sentences under 15 words. Break long sentences into two or more sentences. Use punctuation (dashes, ellipses, etc.) to break up sentences. Vary sentence length to create interest.
  5. Use simple words. Avoid long and complicated words. Simpler words will help to get your point across more effectively. avoid technical jargon unless most readers will understand the terminology or it precisely communicates your meaning.
  6. Be concise. Remove unnecessary words (e.g., that, in order to), redundancies (e.g., small and tiny), run-on sentences, wordy phrases, unnecessary adjectives (e.g., very, really), and passive voice.
  7. Be specific. Include and describe facts and information. Avoid vague copy.
  8. Get to the point. Start talking about the key points in the opening paragraph. Sell from the first line of copy.
  9. Write in a friendly, conversational style. Write the way you talk – use a conversational tone. Imagine yourself speaking to the reader. Use pronouns (e.g., I/we, you, they). Use colloquial expressions and contractions.
  10. Avoid sexist language. Use plurals (they) instead of he / she. When using he / she, alternate the use of he and she, or write “he or she”. Rewrite copy to avoid reference to gender. Create an imaginary person to set the gender. Replace sexist terms.

Do you have your own suggestions on writing clear copy? Need help with writing clear copy? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.


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