1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: More Examples of Active Voice in Copywriting

February 14, 2010

Instead of:

“All students are dreaming of graduating with flying colors”

Use:

“All students dream of graduating with flying colors” (Active voice)

Instead of:

“Being true to your nature.”

Use:

Be true to your nature.” (Active voice)

Instead of:

“Brand XYZ has been rated the #1 tasting vodka in the world by Wine and Dine magazine.”

Use:

“Brand XYZ is the #1 tasting vodka in the world as rated by Wine and Dine magazine.” (Active voice)


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Pack More Punch Into Your Copy. Use Active Voice Instead of Passive Voice!

January 21, 2010

In the English language, voice is used to refer whether the subject of the sentence is doing something, or receiving the action. An active voice tells you that the subject is acting, doing something. In writing, it makes your copy more alive, more engaging and more personal.

Look at this sentence: “John drives a red Ferrari.”

This is the active voice. Here, the subject is the driver, John,who is doing something to the car and there’s some action. You can feel the impact that active voice infuses into the sentence, making it more lively and more active.

Now imagine how it’ll sound like in passive voice : “The red Ferrari was driven by John.”

Feel the difference?

Firstly, the impact is gone because the subject has been moved from doing the action to receiving the action, thus making the sentence sound unemotional and boring. Secondly, the sentence length increases by another 40% for no extra meaning.

So instead of saying, “The goods have been received by customer service” (passive), say “Customer service has received the goods” (active). Instead of saying, “I am looking forward to meet you”, say “I look forward to meet you” as it sounds more personal.

While passive voice can make your writing long-winded, dull and confusing, there are some occasions when it would be more appropriate.

Some examples:

  • When you want to give extra emphasis to something noteworthy – “Lawry’s Steakhouse has been rated as one of the world’s top restaurants.” Here, the focus is on Lawry’s Steakhouse.
  • When you want to downplay the severity of an issue where tact is concerned – “Apology letters have been issued to our clients regarding the product mix-up.” Here, the focus has been taken away from the mistake – the product mix-up.

In conclusion, I encourage you to use your judgment when you write and you will only get better with experience. If you feel that your sentence sounds nicer in passive voice, then use it. But just be sure to vary using the active voice and passive voice wherever appropriate.


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