September 8th, 2010
1 Short. If you write sentences which go on so long that you have to have various conjunctions, like “and” and “but”, together with examples to show what you mean, there’s a good chance readers will get lost. One long sentence after another, where you’re trying to work out the meaning, is not good for clarity. They haven’t got to read your content and probably won’t. Ask yourself if you would.
2 People scan. Most people will not start at the first sentence and read through to the end. They might read the first sentence and then they’ll scan down the page or jump straight to the end to see the price and PS. Unless you’re telling an interesting and useful story, keep the sections on the page as short as you can.
3 Keep it active. Write your sentences in the active voice. This is in the passive voice: “Sentences are written by writers”. This is in the active voice: “Writers write sentences”. Notice there are less words and it’s more direct. It even feels more active.
4 Repeat. Remember the old adage: “Tell them, tell them what you just told them, tell them again”? In this sense, repetition is a good quality in your copywriting. However, repeat things needlessly and it becomes irritating. People don’t mind being reminded of important things, and even enjoy it in forms like stories, but repeating for repeating sake makes the reading dull.
5 Don’t fill out. We’re all guilty of this, and sometimes necessarily so. Here’s an example; “This product will probably get the best traffic you’ve ever had, at least up to the point you start using it.” Why not just say: “You’ll get the best traffic you’ve ever had”? Sometimes you have to go round ideas a little to make them clearer and to keep a colloquial style. But you still need to tell customers straight. They’ll appreciate it.