Copywriting 101: How to say more with less.

Jun 21, 2021 Beth Monaghan

When good messages are hard to read, people miss them. Here’s how to make your writing more memorable: 

🏃   Use active voice. Passive voice downplays your message. 

✍️   Try interesting verbs. Look to replace overused verbs in particular, such as “innovate.” Our favorite tip? Think of an occupation and make a list of actions. Cooking: bake, whisk, stir, blend, fold, get the point.

❗   Don’t lean on adverbs. “Excited” is pretty much the same thing as “very excited.” And words such as “quickly” and “efficiently” tell. You want to show. 

💤   Long sentences bury the point. And they lose the reader.

🌎   Put descriptions close to what they describe. Back up points with facts whenever possible. “World-class” means nothing without evidence. 

❌   Remove qualifying words. They can signal passive voice. “The solution is designed to...” Instead, get right to the point. “The solution” does what?

🚫   Stay away from excessive capitalization and acronyms. These make reading a slog.

🎨   Replace complex text with visuals. This comes in handy with lists of product features or showing how something technical works. 

💬   Read your writing out loud. If you wouldn’t speak these words to someone, you shouldn’t write them. Whether you’re writing a bylined article, an email to a customer, or a proposal for the sales team, humans want to hear from other humans. 

⏰   Build-in time to proof, add links. Triple check for typos, insert all hyperlinks and make sure quotes are approved. 

📘   Use a style guide. The press uses the Associated Press (as do we at Inkhouse). More literary audiences like the Chicago Manual of Style. You get to choose, but don’t use the one in your head. 

Topics: Grammar, writing advice, copywriting
Beth Monaghan

Beth is the CEO of Inkhouse, which she co-founded in 2007 and has grown into one of the top ranked agencies in the country. Beth’s been recognized as one of the Top Women in PR by PR News, the Top 25 Innovators by The Holmes Report and as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth believes that shared values, and the freedom to create are the foundations of all meaningful work. She brings this philosophy to building a culture of creative progress at Inkhouse.

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