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Tips on writing better copy-2

Copywriting Tips By Ivan Levison

Don't use long words 

Long words are more difficult to read, and fewer people understand their meaning. Even PhDs find it easier to read 'big' than 'considerable'. True, you lose subtle shades of meaning when you only use small words. But think of the rewards: more readers, more understanding, more interest and more sales.

 

Instead of a long word like:

Achievement

Advantageous

Appropriate

 Use something simpler:

Success

Good, cheap

Right

  You: the most powerful word in advertising 

Don't be afraid to use the word 'you'. No piece of writing needs to be unfriendly or pompous. Think of the least friendly piece of writing: it would probably be a legal contract. Here is a real piece of legal jargon from an order form:

 

The Customer is strictly liable for any loss or damage to the magnetic tapes however caused while they are in the Customer's possession.

 

Wouldn't it be clearer to say:

 

You are strictly liable for any loss or damage to the magnetic tapes, however caused, while they're in your possession.

   Use the active tense 

Take an active sentence such as 'The cat killed the mouse.' You can turn it into the passive by saying, 'The mouse was killed by the cat'.

 

Two things have happened:

 

The sentence has become 40 per cent longer.

 

It's more difficult to understand, because the relationships (cat - kills - mouse) are less clear.

 

So the moral is, avoid passives where you can. You can spot passives because they often use the words 'be/been' and 'by'. For example, 'The mouse has been killed by the cat.'

 

Exercise: See how many examples of passive tenses can be found in this document. You'll find the answer at the end.

  Using abbreviations 

In chatty copy, you can use words like 'couldn't' or 'won't'. This means you can use them in most advertisements, but take care about using them in more formal copy.

 

If in doubt, ask yourself whether the unabbreviated words look too stiff. Or perhaps the short form looks a little vulgar? See what other copywriters have done in a similar context.

 
 
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