Clarity is the name of the game in copywriting nowadays, when people are faced with so much content that they often just skim it – or, more worryingly, only read the first few lines before deciding whether to continue.
Clear and concise writing is more likely to be read.
Copywriting that is more likely to be read is more likely to achieve its purpose …. to sell.
Here are a few simple tips to make your writing clearer:
Brief your reader in the first paragraph
A simple way to do that is to summarise everything in the first paragraph.
It may seem odd, but ‘briefing’ your reader on what they’re about to read really does seem to make it clearer. (Try it and see!)
Of course, you don’t have to give absolutely everything away in the brief. A good technique is to hold back a few important details until the end!
Break your copy up with short sub heads
The sub head should summarise what the forthcoming section is about. These act as a guide to the reader and help keep them moving through the copy.
Use mainly short sentence and short paragraphs
For maximum clarity (although it’s not an absolute rule) sentences should ideally be no more than about 12 words, with no more than three sentences in a paragraph.
Group similar ideas and arguments together
Pieces of writing that start on a topic, move onto something else, then go back and add to the first topic can be very hard to follow.
After you’ve written something go back through it and group similar ideas together.
Sometimes you might try breaking that rule. But be sure you’ve given the reader enough information in the first part of your copy to justify their time and effort in reading on.
Use plain language. Avoid complicated and arcane words
If your copy can be readily understood by a reasonably literate 12 year old then that’s a good acid test. (There are some exceptions to this though, such as anything that is technical.)
Even if you’re writing for a sophisticated audience plain language is easier to assimilate. (Assimilate? Maybe I’ve just gone and broken my own rule there!)
I hope you find these tips useful. If you’d like more help and advice on making your writing clearer drop me an email at mark @ markhempshell.com