Classic mistakes to avoid when copy-writing

Copy writing mistakesSpelling and grammar: Good copy is spelt correctly. At best, spelling and grammar mistakes look unprofessional and, at worst, can confuse your meaning and undermine your message. Don’t solely rely on your spell-checker! Proofread your copy carefully and then proofread it again (and then again, for luck).

Over-writing: Also known as ‘Norman Mailer Syndrome’, over-written copy uses hundreds of words where one simple, well-written sentence would do. As a rule of thumb, you should try to reduce your text by half.

Over-explaining: Like its baby sibling over-writing (above), over-explaining swells, bloats and distorts your copy with unnecessary detail. Use information on a need-to-know basis: does the reader really need to know this information? Does this information add anything to my intended message?

Avoid clichés like the plague: At the end of the day, clichés do not make for engaging, exciting copy. Why? Because everyone has heard them a thousand times before. Yes, I have used several clichés in this paragraph.

Consider purpose and audience: before you even start, think about why you need this piece of copy and who it is for. Be appropriate to both purpose and audience. Consider this response from Hasbro to a six year old girl who wrote in to complain about a board game, in which they make reference to “a game based on a numerical equation”:

K.I.S.S. stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ and is a copywriting mantra. Above all else, keep it simple, short, succinct.


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