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

Since the early days working around her kitchen table, Beth has grown Inkhouse into one of the top independent PR agencies in the country. She’s been named a Top Woman in PR by PR News, a Top 25 Innovator by PRovoke, and an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth designed Inkhouse’s signature Storytelling Workshop to mirror the literary hero’s journey and to unearth the emotional connections that bind an audience to a brand or idea. She also uses narratives to build Inkhouse’s culture, most recently through two books of employee essays, “Hindsight 2020” and “Aren’t We Lucky?”

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