How to Write Copy People Will Read

It’s not the first time I’ve addressed the subject of how to write clear copy and it won’t be the last. Writing clear copy


Because of all the terrible content I see.

One point a lot of marketers miss is that good copy is simple.

Working as a copywriter, it amazes me how often clients expect their copy to be a literary masterpiece that makes them look super intelligent.

Communication is all about clarity. Your message must be simple and so should the language you use to convey it.  And don’t even get me started on the pedants who love nothing more than to scream and shout at the slightest divergence from what they class as correct English usage.

At the risk of causing an uprising I would like to point out how, over the years, English has evolved. It’s changing all the time (whether you like it or not) and if you want your copy to resonate with your readers you’re going to have to get with it.

That doesn’t mean you can ride roughshod over basic grammar rules, but if a slight deviation helps you get your meaning across…

Anyway, back to the point. Simple language will always win when it comes to copy. So here are a few basics to bear in mind.

1. Stop using big words

Once upon a time, usually during your teenage years when you were desperate for people to start treating you like an adult, you would use ‘big’ words to make yourself look intelligent.

The problem is if you use that approach in your copy you’ll lose readers like there’s no tomorrow.

Always use the simplest form of language to get your ideas across.

2. Keep things brief

Have you noticed how journalists always use short sentences? They make the story easy to follow, but having said that it’s always good to mix in a few longer ones too – variety will keep your reader interested for longer.

The same can be said for paragraphs. Make sure they’re no longer than 2 or 3 sentences.


Huge blocks of text will scare your readers off (remember those tedious novels you had to read in English Literature and their page after page of continuous text?), whereas short paragraphs look far more inviting and readable.

3. Front heavy


Your readers like to get the information they need quickly, so by placing it at the start of your sentences (headlines, sub heads etc.) they will get the important information even if they skim the rest.

4. Cut to strengthen

When writing your content you will add extra words that aren’t needed – for example “get to the point as fast as possible” is more powerful when written as “get to the point”.

A lot of the extra words will be modifiers such as fairly, totally, very etc. Again, they don’t add value to your copy so cut them.

The same goes for sentences that use “if/then” and “in order to”:

  • If you want glossy hair, then our latest smoothing shampoo if ideal for you
  • Want glossy hair? Try our smoothing shampoo

Once you’ve written your first draft, read through and cut any words that don’t add value.

5. Metaphors and similes

Both of these help add the important emotional connection to your writing. They help your readers see, hear, taste and feel what you’re talking about.

When used effectively they will multiply the impact of your words, lodging them in their brain, making your message very difficult to forget.

How about you?

Do you have any other writing tips you’d like to share?

What favourite tricks do you use to get people to take notice of your copy?

Leave a comment below.

Author: Sally Ormond

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#1 SEO and content writing tips: Week ending Feb. 18, 2014 » SEO Copywriting on 02.19.14 at 10:01 am

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