The Golden Rules of Copywriting
Buffet’s guide to avoiding silly grammar errors and sounding like yourself, not everyone else.By Molly Urquhart
Copywriting, these days, encompasses a pool of, well, everything. Here at Buffet we write A LOT of copy, but we also often carefully strategise tones of voice for each brand whose presence we’re graced with. Perhaps you’re doing your own digi comms and it’s been a while between grammar classes, fair. To tighten up your next caption, article or eDM, and elevate them with little to no effort, implement the following nine rules. Trust us.
One: DO A COURSE. It’s worth it. I’ve done The Good Copy’s Stop. Grammar Time course twice and it really is the bee’s knees. I don’t know about you but I certainly didn’t learn or remember learning much about dangling participles or en and em dashes when I was at school.
Two: Buy books!!!! Tait Ischia’s Copywrong to Copywriter, the classic Elements of Style, Meredith Forrester’s Make Grammar Great Again and The Little Red Writing Book are four super short, super digestible books (three of four are available at The Good Copy), and will actually transform your writing.
Three: Cut unnecessary words! “That” is often unnecessary.
that I was a better copywriter.
I wish I was a better copywriter.
Case in point.
Four: If you’re thinking about writing a cliche, write out a few options and always choose the last. A lesson you’ll learn from The Good Copy.
Friday feels down here on @howardsmithwharves! What will it be tonight? Good vibes only down here on @howardsmithwharves tonight. What are you having?
Sun’s out, cocktails ON. Shimmy on down to @howardsmithwharves, it’s tray-of-cocktails galore.
Five: Numbers from one to ten are written in letters. From 11 they’re written in numerals.
Molly ate five Easter eggs, Gemma ate 15.
Molly ate 45 eggs, Gemma ate one.
Six: Sentences can’t start with numbers, even if it’s 11 or larger.
15 people ran the race.
Fifteen people ran the race.
There were 15 people in the race.
Seven: Banned words. It’s hard to have a definitive list of banned words, this differs brand to brand. As with tone of voice, familiarise yourself with your brand’s vocabulary. This should help with deciphering what words are appropriate and which aren’t. As a rule, fresh should never be used. If you need to clarify something is fresh, you probs need to look at your product.
Eight: And is always written out, you should never use an ampersand (the & symbol) unless it’s a proper noun or a deliberate part of your branding. It’s lazy, otherwise.
Molly & Gemma went shopping.
Molly and Gemma went shopping.
Jac + Jack
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Nine: Ice-cream is spelt ice-cream not ice cream or icecream. It’s ice-cream. That’s just how it’s spelt.
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