(Flickr photo by Takashi Hososhima)
If You’re Struggling to write down Better Business and Marketing Copy, Listed below are Several General Writing Tips that allows you to Facilitate your Focus Your Skills.
My friend, a center-school teacher, tells a joke that goes like this:
He asked his students to put in writing essays about their winter-break vacations. One student wrote: “My family went skiing. It was good.”
My friend admonished him: “That’s fine, but ‘good’ is one of these bland word. Can’t you believe you studied of something else that conveys the experience better? Try using a thesaurus to locate a more exciting word than ‘good.’ ”
After consulting the thesaurus, the coed turned in his second attempt: “My family went skiing. It was an item on the market.”
Ah, ah! Funny, right?
Well, maybe if you’re a word nerd.
(In case you don’t get the joke: Of the whole possible synonyms the coed could’ve used, he chose person who made zero sense — not less than on this sentence. As opposed to substituting another adjective, say, “stupendous” or “satisfactory,” he chose a distinct portion of speech altogether — a noun, as in “goods and services.”)
The lesson: Beware the thesaurus. You can use it when writing. Just be absolutely certain you realize the total meaning of your preferred synonym and the context before plugging it in. It is able to change the meaning of your sentence, and maybe all the email message or website, entirely.
That’s one lesson we’ll cover on this post.
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As an editor for freelance writers and journalists, I’ve taught writing for several years to beginners, seasoned veterans and everybody in between. And along the way in which, I’ve continually run across common mistakes all writers, including me, commit.
In this guide, I’ll tackle basic writing for business and marketing purposes, which isn’t really that different than writing for publications. Most writing, at its core, is communicating information clearly to audiences — whether it’s one person or millions.
If it’s so simple, why achieve this a lot of people get it so wrong?
We can usually trace writing mistakes back to breaking certainly one of a handful of guidelines you should definitely follow when writing nearly anything. I say “nearly anything” because this recommendation probably wouldn’t suit presidential speechwriters, Russian novelists or haiku enthusiasts.
But it will probably fit you.
In the top, writing — even for marketing and business purposes — is an art, like painting or composing music. You will get better, but only by understanding and practicing solid techniques.
Here are a number of them.
1. Be simple
Write clearly and easily on your audience. (Photo by Nevit Dilmenwiki/Wikimedia Commons)
Construct clear and easy passages. Write shorter sentences. Write shorter paragraphs. You’re not writing a unique or poem. Sure, you will have a welcoming and tasty voice, but you’re not attempting to win the person Booker Prize.
As you become a more well-off and disciplined writer, that you would be able to experiment with varying your sentence length, weaving longer and shorter paragraphs together, and adding spice and nuance.
Structure is extremely important, too. If you’re writing something lengthy, consider creating a top level view first that clears a path for you: the main points you must make, where you’ll want to cause them to and the way they ought to relate to one another.
Many writers mistakenly focus only on individual sentences and ignore their larger structure. When they’re done, there’s nothing ostensibly wrong with each sentence, however the structure is a multitude.
2. Be responsible
Answer to yourself.
You needs to be capable of justify every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph — especially if what you’re writing will live for a very long time and be read by many. Often, you must wonder: Is that this the word I really want to make use of? Do I understand its implications? You want to also justify your structure: Maybe this sentence is smart, but does it make sense in this location? Is it involving the passages near it? Will it confuse my readers?
3. Be yourself
Don’t force it.
All writers have a natural voice — whether you’re an accomplished wordsmith or not — and that voice should surface naturally if you write. If you’re seeking to write differently than you normally would, you’re not being yourself — after which you permit yourself open to awkward phrases and unintentional mistakes.
For instance, I purposely vary my sentence and paragraph lengths, often following an extended (but grammatically correct) sentence with a quick, impactful one who often stands alone as its own paragraph. I frequently use alliteration, detailed lists and colorful anecdotes. These don’t work for every person.
I also use plenty of em dashes (these items: —) when writing. And that’s fine because that’s a part of my voice, and that i understand when to take advantage of them. At the flip side, I detest ellipses (these items: …) though em dashes and ellipses are somewhat interchangeable. I’ll even occasionally use a well-placed exclamation point, though my wife — also a writer — thinks I’m crazy.
It all comes down your style. (But I’d suggest you don’t use ellipses. i believe they’re lazy!)
One caution: Don’t let your voice muddle clarity. You could have both, but don’t sacrifice understanding for cleverness.
Another caution: Once I say “be yourself,” I also mean that quite literally. Never steal someone else’s writing or ideas and pass them off as your individual. It would constitute plagiarism or copyright infringement. Always cite your sources and link to them.
Copyscape.com lets you input quite a lot of text right into a form field that then uses Yahoo and Google APIs to seek out matches on the net. This permits you to ascertain whether another person has used your work, or if you’ve unintentionally used someone else’s words. Each search costs five cents. You should use Google or Yahoo searches to review your work. But it’s tedious. That you have to put chunks in quotes to look for matches.
4. Be your audience
Don’t assume you’re making sense.
Remember that you’re writing what you’re writing because you think you are aware of it. Obviously it makes complete sense to you! Shouldn’t it make sense to everyone?
That’s a mistake. Attempt to see your writing through someone else’s eyes and ask: Does this really make sense? If in case you have the posh of a second perspective, have a peer or two read it. If they’re confused or should ask you questions on what you mean, address those portions. They’re likely right.
5. Be pitiless
Murder your darlings.
That old aphorism — sometimes attributed to William Faulker, Eudora Welty or Oscar Wilde, but probably coined by Arthur Quiller-Couch — simply means you’ll often ought to remove your favorite passages or words once you can’t justify their presence. All writers has been there: We’re in love with a phrase we’ve written, however it just doesn’t fit. When that occurs, kill it. Don’t stress over shoving it in somewhere.
6. Be brief
Write it once.
Redundancy is a typical mistake everyone makes. Writers often rewrite phrases, sentences and passages they’ve already written — just in numerous words. If they’re lucky, their readers won’t notice or care. What’s worse, their readers turns into frustrated or angry because they could feel like they’re wasting their time. Even worse than that: They lose interest. They’ll surrender and shut your site.
I have zero scientific evidence to support this, but here’s my theory: Too-verbose writers create redundant passages because they subconsciously think they didn’t explain it well the primary time.
If you discover redundancies to your writing, wonder: Where did I explain this already, and did I explain it clearly?
Tighten your writing. Then tighten some more. (Flickr photo by Eric)
7. Be tight
Squeeze out the flotsam.
Tightening is one of many best stuff you can do as a writer. There are a number of steps I follow when tightening: First i glance for major structural redundancies: What sections are similar and may be combined? Sometimes i will eliminate a complete paragraph.
Then i glance for passages and sentences that may be removed or combined with others. Wonder: Am I saying an analogous thing again? If that’s the case — or perhaps if it’s near the identical thing — I consider removing it.
Last, i glance for words i will remove without changing my meaning. This will trim your writing significantly and leave you with something fresh, clear and straightforward.
8. Be correct
Read what you wrote.
Then read it again.
And then read it again.
And always run a spelling, punctuation and grammar check. Microsoft Word remains the correct spellchecker around, but because it’s a chunk pricey, you could often find free tools like Google Docs (even though it won’t check grammar) that suffice.
Check for commonly misused homonyms, too. These are words that sound a similar, but are spelled differently and feature different meanings — like “their,” “there” and “they’re,” or “it’s” and “its.”
Also, be wary of shorthand, emoticons or emojis. We’ve all seen them: LOL, b4, ttyl, ppl and anything else. Sometimes they could make sense, but watch out and think about your audience.
This list from Weber State University contains common mistakes every writer should know, including homonyms, misused words and problem phrases.
Here’s an inventory of common mistakes — and the way to circumvent them — I compiled for Treehouse writers.
Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty of QuickandDirtyTips.com, is another excellent resource for those pesky grammar and punctuation problems.
9. Be courteous
Write on your grandma.
This mostly applies to emails and other communication. Remember: Written words can’t carry voice inflection, body language or every other modifying treatments. Therefore, you can’t control as easily how someone will react to what you write. What sounds cheerful to you might sound snide for your reader.
Put differently: Your audience can react negatively, although what you mean is written with the simplest intentions. When you’re corresponding with a shopper, a md or a coworker, be careful and write with professionalism.
Write in a well mannered way, like how you’d address your grandma. (Flickr photo by Wystan)
Try to incorporate a salutation — “Hi Tim,” — everytime you can. Always end with a “Thanks, Tim” or “Best, Tim” or similar sign-off. These common courtesies are short and free, they usually can mean an awful lot to the receiver.
Also be wary of writing an excessive amount of out of your cellular phone or tablet. The ease these devices provide will also be a pitfall and lead you to crafting curt and doubtless discourteous replies. In the event you must use a mobile device, try and include a salutation and “thank-you” sign-off or a minimum of your name. Always check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. And skim it for autocorrect errors. Then read it again.
10. Be prompt
Don’t cast off responses.
We’re often tempted to read emails immediately but not respond until later. If you’ve told someone one can email her by Tuesday, email her by Tuesday. The identical goes for promised communications or work you’ve done.
11. Be focused
If you end up having a tough time targeting your writing or proofreading, try removing all distractions: Turn off the television, radio, music or anything that gives auditory distractions. You might imagine you’re just reading, writing and looking out at your work — but you’re actually hearing it. Any competition can negatively affect your work, and unless you’ve been immersed in loud working environments — like a newspaper, a stock exchange or a nitroglycerin plant — your mind’s prone to wander. (If you’d like to work with music, play it softly and think about songs that don’t have lyrics, similar to classical or electronic music. You could love the Beatles, but trust me, Paul McCartney will fight your inner monologue.)
Turn off the television if it’s bothering you even slightly. (Flickr photo by flash.pro)
If you’re still having trouble and end up missing easy mistakes, read aloud what you wrote and visually deal with each word as you go along. Hearing it aloud may help you notice missed or incorrect words.
You may additionally give it an hour or an afternoon. Return in your writing after a break. You’ll catch mistakes in the event you give yourself a rest.
This guide isn’t exhaustive, after all. Learning to be a more in-depth writer takes years. The neatest advice I’ve learned is that this: Read an awful lot. Write much. Scour the internet for the kind of writing you should do. See what others are writing and the way it affects you as a reader.
With consistent and practiced effort, you’ll improve.