Good writing is at the centre of all content marketing and business promotion. Your company will be judged on the quality of the writing associated with it, so it is essential to strive for professionalism. Writing well is a complex skill that can be developed over time. However, if you are struggling to put words on screen there are a few simple changes you can make that will supercharge the quality of your content.
- Delete redundant words. Scan your copy for words that are merely taking up space and adding nothing to the meaning. Do you need to add ‘really’ and ‘very’ to your sentence or are they clutter? In Essential English, Harold Evans points out some ‘meaningless modifiers’ as he calls them. He says the ‘lonely hermit’ could have been nothing else and telling people the theatre is ‘completely full’ doesn’t make satisfy would-be audience members who have been turned away. Why write ‘two other possible alternatives’ because if they weren’t possible they would not be alternatives.
- Opt for the active tense whenever possible. Say the cat sat on the mat, rather than the mat had the cat sitting on it. The active tense is easier to read and makes for more powerful and persuasive writing.
- Use specific words. Evans says this means ‘calling a spade a spade and not a factor of production.’ Opt for specific, concrete words rather than abstract words. A new building should have changing rooms, tennis courts and a gym rather than fitness facilities. Evans says ‘an improvement in workers’ facilities’ comes out as a new canteen with sausage and eggs at £1.50’.
- Avoid long sentences. Too long and your sentence becomes difficult to read. Keep your sentences below 25 words. Anything longer and consider chopping it into two sentences instead. Colons and semi-colons should be used sparingly rather than as an excuse to construct super-long sentences.
- Clear out the punctuation clutter. Keep your copy as clean as possible. It’s easier to read. Keep colons and semi-colons to a minimum. Write 1 May rather than 1st May. Write 9am rather than 9.00am. This is particularly true if you are writing a leaflet, poster or what’s on entry where word-count is tight.