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Six Words:
The Case for Clear Headlines and Ad Copy

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotionals for writers

A Word From The Word

Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. (Habakkuk 2:2, NLT)

The case for clear headlines and ad copy: an online devotional for writers based on Habakkuk 2:2 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #ChristianWritingResources

A Word For Writers

Ad copy on billboards presents an interesting writing dilemma. You don’t want to distract the driver who is speeding by at 70 miles an hour, but you want your message to be clear.

That’s why six words is considered to be the limit for an effective billboard message (that and large, large letters). A driver can grasp a six-word message in seconds.

The principle is similar to writing a headline, an envelope teaser, or an email subject line: make the message obvious so even readers who are in a hurry can absorb it.

What surprised me, as I studied ways to write better headlines, ad copy, and subject lines, is that billboards are not new. In Bible times, it was common to post a message on large clay tablets in public places – in large characters – so that people passing by could see it.

This was particularly useful when the message was urgent. In 600 B.C., God told the prophet Habakkuk to “Write my answer plainly on tablets” (Habakkuk 2:2, NLT) so that the people of Judah could use the information and prepare for a coming invasion.

How your readers use a headline or a message or a bit of ad copy is up to them. My job as a writer is to make it clear and plain so the reader can take it and use it … even when he’s in a hurry.

Sometimes, in six words or less.

A Wise Word

Make your message plain.

A Word To Pray

Gracious Father,

I want my writing to be useful, especially when I need to communicate to readers who are in a hurry. Show me how to write plainly and clearly.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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