Senin, April 21, 2008

Tips on writing better copy

Copywriting Tips By Ivan Levison

On these pages, we look at how you write better copy. This relates to all kinds of copy, whether for brochures or web copy.

For whom are you writing?

Think about the people who will read your copy. Firstly, they're busy (isn't everyone, these days?). So they won't tolerate sloppy words or slow writing.

Secondly, your product may not greatly interest the customer. (People are interested mainly in themselves!). So it's vital to communicate well.

Readers need to know what benefits your product will give them. They'll be impressed by clear words, simple explanations and a logical flow - not by flowery words or long sentences.

The first task is to identify your customers. Where and when will they see your communication?

Exercise: Stop and make some notes about your customers. What kind of people are they?

The right kind of writing

Having got a clear picture of your reader, you should decide on the right sort of writing. From a postcard to a 36 page brochure, every type of writing is different.

Use the right sentence length

The sentence length depends on the medium you're using (whether a press ad or a sales leaflet). 10 words per sentence is about right for press advertisements, while 15 word sentences suit direct mail and brochures. Any sentence that exceeds 25 words will be difficult to follow

Adopt the right paragraph length

A paragraph of more than 15 lines is off-putting. 100 years ago, people had greater powers of concentration. But 30-second TV commercials and 10-second sound bites have reduced readers' attention span.

Use strong headlines

A headline should always encourage people to read the text. It should make them curious, or make them think they will learn something to their advantage. Be bold when it comes to headlines: they're the secret of getting people to read your words. Use long headlines freely: they work as well as short ones.

Never make the headline obscure. Never use words that people won't understand, as in this charity headline:

More women are victims of intestacy than divorce.

Even ordinary brochures need stimulating headlines. Brochures often waste an opportunity by using dull headlines like 'Introduction', or 'Product Characteristics'.

Use cross heads

Cross-heads (or subheads) are the small headings that break up groups of paragraphs in newspapers. Their role is attract the eye to the text and make it easier to read. Newspapers have the advantage of being able to add words like 'Crisis' or 'Sex'. You're unlikely to be able to use words like this. But you can still select the most evocative word from a group of paragraphs.

Use at least two headlines or sub-heads per page of text. They will guide the reader through the page.

Banish abstract words

Avoid using abstract words, like 'adjustment'. If you find you have written one, change it into a verb or use a concrete noun.

People like using abstract words because they sound weighty. They help the writer feel grand, but they also reduce the reader's understanding.

(to be continued...)

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