Copywriting(you don’t need to be especially good with words)
Before you start...• Who are you writing for?• What do you want to say?• Sketch out a plan• What do people need to know?• What practical information do you need to give?• How much are you going to write?
Teenage Cancer TrustImagine you need to write a 2pp A5 flyerpromoting the Teenager Cancer Trust artexhibition. Read the source material and make alist of the key points that you might need to getacross in a very short leaflet. Decide what’s notimportant. Write the opening sentence.
Be clear and concise, not clever• Avoid jargon• Use short sentences• Use short paragraphs• Use simple, clear language• Use commands and instructions• Use active not passive• Tell people what to do next
‘Predictors of beaconicity’ (and other jargon to avoid)• Baseline • Evaluation• Bottom-up • Evidence-based• Capacity • Initiative• Commissioning • Outreach• Core costs • Signposting• Empowerment • Value-added
Not this...More people will understand and benefitfrom our information if it is written in aclear, accessible manner and you keepsentences short with, perhaps, 15 words onaverage, although it is a good idea to varythe length to avoid monotony and keepyour writing interesting.
...but thisMore people will understand and benefitfrom our information if it is written in aclear, accessible manner. Keep yoursentences short. A good average length is15 words, but you should vary the length toavoid monotony and keep your writinginteresting.
Are you interested?Using ‘you’ and ‘your’ to make the messagemore personal and friendly.It creates an engaging tone and makes peoplefeel the information is relevant to them.
RE-write these sentences using ‘you’and ‘your’30 minutes of exercise five times a weekis known to improve health.Children are bound to love our new playsessions on Saturday mornings.This leaflet gives a taste of what’s tocome, and how to make it happen.
Swimming makes people feel betterResearch shows that swimming canimprove mental wellbeing. Peoplefrequently reported that they felt betterafter even a few minutes of non-energetic swimming.
Improve your mood with a swimA trip to the pool can have an amazingeffect on your mood. On your way tothe pool you can be feeling low andunsociable. But a few minutes of gentleexercise can transform your moodcompletely.
Questions• Can you use questions to structure a leaflet?• Do they work?• Will they keep people reading?• How many questions can you use?• Can you have too many?• Can you mix questions and non-questions?
Using commandsUsing commands is a clear way of giving adviceor instructions.Rewrite the advice on the handout in the formof a series of commands.
Top waste saving tips1.Plan meals ahead so that you only buy whatyou need – rather than throwing food away.2.Buy loose fruit and veg rather than packagedproducts in bags and plastic trays.3.Before throwing away furniture, computers orother large items, think if someone else coulduse it.4.Hire, share and borrow where possible. It’sbetter for the environment than buying new.5.Choose real nappies rather than disposables.
£1 per word• Write in a straightforward way without any unnecessary jargon, overly complicated wording or extraneous detail.• A useful trick is to imagine you have to pay £1 for every word you use.• It’s amazing how much plainer your English gets if you bear this in mind.
The £87 paragraphLighting accounts for around 10–15% ofelectricity bills in the average household inBritain. So by turning off the lights when youare not in the room you will reduce the amountof energy you use and therefore cut your bills aswell as doing your bit for global warming. Weare also all being urged to use energy-savingbuilds which carry the Energy EfficiencyRecommend logo. Using these is a good idea ifyou want to save money.
The £50 paragraphFor most people, around 10–15% of theirelectricity bill is the cost of lighting. Simplyturning off lights when you’re not in the roomwill reduce the amount of energy you use andsave you money. Use energy-saving bulbs too –look for the Energy Efficiency RecommendedLogo.
Active rather than passiveUse ‘active verbs’ rather than ‘passive verbs’.This simply means putting the subject at thebeginning of the sentence - it lifts the text andmakes it sound more dynamic.
Active rather than passive‘An extra four hours support a week is providedby sensory support teachers’or‘Sensory support teachers provide an extra fourhours of support a week.’
Active rather than passiveOver £500 was received by visitors to the eventon Saturday.The plan to improve the park was discussed bycouncillors in June.The workshop was attended by around sixpeople.
Active rather than passiveThe park was overrun by dogs after the kennelwas burned down by vandals.Children were helped across the road by acrossing warden.The beach chairs were always hogged by theJones family.
Is there a better word?Use longer, ‘complicated’ words only if they arethe best ones for the job.Otherwise choose simple options.Is there a clearer alternative to a word you’vechosen?
Is there a better word?Would you like an opportunity to earn extramoney?If you need additional help with claimingbenefits simply ask a member of staffYou’ll need to bring appropriate footwear
Is there a better word?To make a budget you’ll need to calculate howmuch you spend on food each weekWe’ll try to correct the fault immediatelyTo find out if you are eligible to join call 0207314 5000
Don’t shout!!!!!Use exclamation marks sparingly (or not at all)Avoid ‘amazing’, ‘fantastic’, ‘unique’, ‘fabulous’etcTell the truth – it’s more persuasive.
Any finally...It is more important to be effective thancreative.Copy good ideas. It’s what copywriters do.