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Writing Tips: 5 Copywriting Fixes to Make You Sound Professional

Let’s be clear: copywriting fixes don’t take the place of good writing.

Some writers are overwhelmed by intimidation. Others are pumped by the desire to impress. It can be tempting to believe that fancy words and niche lingo will do the trick to make them sound professional.

5 copywriting fixes with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Wrongo!

Naturally, it helps to know what you’re talking about. But complexity and insider lingo can muddle the waters in the written word. Clarity – not complexity – is key to sounding professional on paper.

No matter what your skill level, there are a few concrete steps to follow to make writing clearer and more focused. Try these quick fixes to focus your cover letters, emails, appeals, and web text.

Quick Fix #1: Vary Sentence Length

Write a longer sentence, like this one, to explain a bigger idea.

Then follow it with a short one.

Break up extra long sentences into two or even three parts. Include a couple of mid-length sentences for variety.

Today’s low attention-span readers like variety.

Quick Fix #2: Start each sentence with a different word

This is harder than it sounds! First and last words are a sentence's most important -- readers remember them. (Do you want your reader to remember "the" or "to" -- common first words?) Variation alters rhythm and builds interest to your copy.

Quick Fix #3: Eliminate extra baggage

Cut out excess verbiage that isn’t important or necessary. Tighter copy reads with more clarity than text muddied with too many words.

Quick Fix #4: Zap "that"

What I mean is that you should figure out how not to use “that” so that your writing sounds more professional.

Or put another way … edit so “that” isn’t part of your copy, and you’ll sound more like a pro.

Quick Fix #5: Use strong verbs

Avoid forms of “to be” matched with adjectives, as in:

“Andy was confused. Where did the dog go?”

Instead of this bland sentence, replace “to be” forms with action words that evoke the senses.

“Andy paused, scratching his head to think. He listened for the dog’s clinking tags and her rustle in the underbrush.”

See the difference? Picture Andy cocking his head to listen for his pet in order to follow.

Action verbs build a more specific, colorful image in the reader’s mind. They paint a picture in your reader's mind, which is one indicator of strong writing. Using strong verbs is not only one of the best copywriting fixes ... it's a good, old-fashioned writing fix, period.


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