MUST-READ for Copywriters and Marcom People: Fast and Easy Way to Make Your Copy Easier to Read

April 19, 2015

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales copywriter or a Marcom person, one of the most important things to do is to check your writing for readability.

You may have spent countless hours fine-tuning and editing your work but does it necessarily mean your readers can understand you?

So before you send your press release or sales brochure for print, make sure you understand this rule-of-thumb: the more readable your text is, the higher the chance you’ll get a response.

Before you go, “What?! Does that mean I have to proof-read my document again?” Here’s the GOOD NEWS: Checking for readability is as easy as a click of the button. It only takes a minute and involves very little work on your part.

Here’s what you should do:

Copy and paste your text into Microsoft Office Word 2010. If you’re not using Microsoft Word, you can use an online readability tool such as http://www.readability-score.com

In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click on Review.

Next, click on Spelling and Grammar:

Spelling and Grammar

In the window that pops up, click on Options:

PopupTick the little check-box that says Show Readability Statistics, then click on OK:

Show readability statsWhenever you run a spell-check on your document, you’ll get a summary of the readability statistics:

readability stats

Right up to this point, you’ll see several sets of figures. Don’t let them frustrate you. I hate numbers myself! But what we’re really interested in are the bottom 3 sets of scores

1. Passive Sentences is the percentage of your text using passive voice. The lower the percentage, the better.

Here’s why you should minimize the use of passive voice in your writing

2. Flesch Reading Ease is a highly accurate formula developed by world leading readability expert Dr. Rudolph Flesch. As the name suggests, the formula is based on the number of long words you use, and tells you how easy a text is to read. The higher the score, the better.

3. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level relates to US Grade School reading ages. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an 8th grader can understand the document.

Now this doesn’t mean your reader has to be an 8th grader!

Bear in mind that your reader, who is very likely a busy person, has very little time (and patience!) in reading your copy. Asian readers, especially, hate to read something that is difficult to understand, or as they often say, “bombastic”.  It is very unlikely that he or she will give it full attention if they have to check the dictionary each time they encounter a difficult word (e.g. “tenacious”, “exacerbate”, “scintillating”, “collegial”).

You get the idea.

So always make your text easy for busy (and impatient) people to understand what you’re trying to say – without them having to check the dictionary.

If your Flesch Reading Ease score is low (e.g. 50 or below), it’s mostly due to sentence length. Proof-read your document again and pick out any long sentences. Could you reduce them? Or split them in two, even three? Check for any unnecessarily long words and use an online thesaurus such as http://www.wordreference.com for a simpler meaning of that word.

For example, could you say “co-operative” instead of “collegial”, or “lucky”, instead of “auspicious”?

Remember, the more easy your copy is to read, the higher the chance you’ll get a response!


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How to Write Powerful Body Copy: Use Verbs, Not Nouns

September 16, 2010

The secret to writing good sales body copy is to use words that sound active and vigorous. Like a Hollywood blockbuster director, your aim is to entice, engage and keep your readers hooked to the plot of your story.

And the key to seducing your readers is to use words that convey action, also known as “verbs”. But many writers, presumably trying to sound more professional, tend to turn their verbs into nouns – big words that are used to name complicated ideas. This weakens the impact of your message and ultimately smothers the quality of your overall writing.

Here are some examples of nouns used in a few ads I’ve seen and how we can rewrite them into verbs:

Noun: We are one of the world’s fastest growing exotic car specialists, what’s special about us is our passion!

Verb: We are passionate about cars! And that’s what makes us one of the world’s fastest growing exotic car specialists.

Noun: Our specialization is web design and provision of IT solutions for your entire needs.

Verb: We specialize in web design and solving your IT problems.

Noun: We assist organizations and individuals to improve daily operations through the promotions of InfoComm & Security Technologies.

Verb: We offer InfoComm and Security Technologies that improve daily operations for organizations and people.

Learn more advanced copywriting secrets for writing effective body copy, download the QuickStart Copywriter ebook here.


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Advanced Copywriting Secrets: How to Bring Your Writing to Life!

June 17, 2010

A lot of readers have asked me if there’s a secret copywriting technique to adding more texture and dimension to the general message of what they would like to write. And my answer is “yes”!

More often than not, people provide just the mere facts in their writing, often forgetting to include emotive and sensory words that give readers a true picture of what they’re reading. It is very important to paint a picture of what you are trying to communicate because this makes it easier for your readers to “see” the image you’re trying to create.

Therefore as you write, try to visualize the message of what you want to convey. If you are writing about a product, or anything at all, one of the most important copywriting skills you have to learn is thinking in pictures!

Describe your product in vivid detail, right down to its textures and colors. There is no limit to your imagination and  you may even add interesting details such as whether there are other characters in the scene you’re trying to visualize. What are their expressions? How they are feeling? Whatever your imagination may be, the key thing is to share with your readers what they will see, hear, feel, taste or even smell when they use your product – any product – be it a meat patty maker or a hamburger!

With that in mind, let’s play a visualisation game to help you improve the clarity and control of your mental imagery. Picture the sequence of events as your readers use or consume these common objects. How would your scene unfold?

  • An electric fruit juicer
  • A bar of chocolate
  • A bottle of wine
  • A mountain bike
  • An electronic gadget such as a smartphone
Get even more advanced strategies that help you create better copy in less time. Get your copy of QuickStart Copywriter here and give your writing skills a complete makeover!

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