As promised, here’s the second installment of my series on packing more punch into your prose. In Part 1, we talked about using strong verbs, ditching the adverbs, and the benefits of active sentences. Those are essential points to keep in mind if you want to inject some life into your writing.
So, this week, I thought I’d share two more of my favorite writing tips. Enjoy!
1. Avoid meaningless “filler” verbs: This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves – and it’s also something I see ALL the time – from web pages to brochures to marketing mailers. Verbs like “allow” and “help” are common offenders, but you also see filler phrases, too. My least favorite? “Meet your needs.”
Words like these are kinda like the mystery bits in hot dogs. If you stuff ‘em in to your copy, they do make your paragraphs look plump and juicy – but upon closer inspection, they’re really just junk that’s not fit for consumption.
Here’s what I mean:
Our expert staff at XYZ landscaping understands how to meet your needs. Our 20 years of experience allows us to help you achieve the backyard you’ve always dreamed of.
Photo by Falling Sky
See the filler? Somewhere along the line, a copywriter came up with the phrase “meet your needs.” It may have worked once, and it may have actually meant something at the time. Since then, it seems like every company in the world – from landscaping to healthcare to IT – claims to “meet your needs.” Whatever your “needs” are, exactly. And, don’t forget the filler verbs lurking in the copy. They weaken your sentences and make strong statements fall flat.
To the expert staff at XYZ landscaping, your yard is much more than a patch of grass. We work with you to design a backyard paradise so inviting that you’ll never want to go indoors.
Instead of the tired, soggy, and flavorless “meet your needs” – we used something much more specific and original, giving the copy more personality in the process. And, while the original version sort of vaguely implies that, somehow, XYZ landscaping “helps’ make your yard dreamy, the updated draft tells the customer EXACTLY what XYZ does: they design .
2. Go easy on bolding. When used in moderation, bold type is an excellent way to get your point across and emphasize key words and phrases – especially when writing web copy. A lot of novice copywriter’s go WAY overboard with bolding – or, they simply use bolding haphazardly, highlighting seemingly random words and phrases. Too much bolding is hard on the eye and makes it difficult for your reader to figure out what’s important.
High Fashion Home Furnishings is your one-stop shop for all of your home decorating needs. From sofas and dining tables to custom upholstery and interior design services, we work with you every step of the way to transform your home into a beautiful, functional work of art
Hard to read, isn’t it? The key to using bolding is to use it – sparingly – to highlight a few words and phrases. Since people tend to scan web pages, bolding ensures that the important stuff stands out.
High Fashion Home Furnishings is your one-stop home decorating destination. From sofas and dining tables to custom upholstery and interior design services, we work with you every step of the way to transform your home into a beautiful, functional work of art.
See how your eye instantly jumps to the bolded phrases? Even if you quickly scan the paragraph, can immediately identify what High Fashion Home is all about: home decorating.
So, what about you? Do you have any favorite copywriting tips to share? We’d love to hear what you have to say.
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