Over the past two days, I’ve been teaching a writing course to the communications team of a council on behalf of the Public Relations Consultants Association.
We’ve covered writing press releases, writing for the web and writing for social media – all different media, but for all of them, the aim of your writing should be the same:
And the best way to do that is to make your writing as enjoyable, interesting and easy for your readers to understand as possible.
Here are 15 tips to help you do that:
- Tell stories: these will enliven and add interest to your copy
- Imagine you are explaining the story to your aged aunt or grandmother: use the same simple language.
- Vary your language & use interesting words: make the thesaurus and synonyms in Word your friend.
- Avoid sub-clauses: if you find you are including one, turn it into a second sentence.
- Vary the length of your sentences: two or three word sentences can have impact and add interest to your copy.
- Aim to keep all sentences short.
- Front load your copy, so that the most important facts are at the beginning, signposting what is to come.
- Cut out all unnecessary words (eg: whether rather than whether or not, that)
- Use positive, active words: negatives are far harder for the brain to understand
- Use the active, not passive case (we won the award, not the award was won by us)
- Avoid jargon and acronyms
- Check your spelling and grammar
- Start with the easy bit first – even if it is the contact details
- Use short words (start not commence)
- Read your copy out loud: if you can’t read it out fluently and easily, your reader will find it tricky to understand.