5 Tips for Perfect Copywriting

We’ve shared with you ways of working with your copywriter and writing in the client’s voice. Now, here are five ways to help your copywriter capture your editorial style—that is, to express your message exactly the way you want it. These tips will help streamline the copywriting process.

Quoting vs. paraphrasing

Without specific instructions, a copywriter will try to strike a balance between direct quotations and paraphrasing from a transcript or interview. Many copywriters started in journalism, so this balance is almost second nature. The copy usually turns out pretty well, too.

Some clients, though, love long quotations that capture the story in the interviewee’s own words. Others, in contrast, want their message expressed mainly in their words, not the interviewee’s. If you feel strongly one way or the other, let your copywriter know.

Long headlines vs. short

There’s really no firm rule about headline length, although occasionally we’ll see instructions in a corporate style guide. A short headline usually picks up a phrase or key word from the copy. A long headline might be an entire sentence. You probably have a personal preference for one or the other. If you do, let us know—it will save time all around.

Language to use—or not

Share any approved or favorite words or phrases that you’d like the copywriter to weave into the text. And if there’s anything that you don’t want to include, something that you’ll always strike out of a paragraph, please let us know that as well.

Whom to quote—or not

We often interview multiple executives or engineers, or receive background materials that quote more than one person. If there is someone we must quote, please tell us. Likewise, tell us if there’s anyone you don’t want mentioned in the copy.

Technical detail

Wordsmithie works with many technology companies, but often the pieces we write for them are meant for non-technical audiences. So, how much technical detail should a copywriter include in the text? Your advice is always very helpful here.

Share a few examples of pieces that have the right balance, including some from other companies. Also share examples of copy that you dislike. Even after providing that advice, expect to tinker with the draft a time or two … until, like the bears’ porridge, the copy is just right.


ABOUT Jim Leeke

Widely experienced in journalism, marketing communications and advertising, Jim has worked with top creative agencies to deliver print, Internet and interactive projects to Fortune 500 companies. His expertise ranges from technology and healthcare/pharmaceuticals to defense and veterans issues. Jim is also the author/editor of six books, writing extensively on the Civil War and baseball. In addition to his Wordsmithie role, Jim is Co-founder and Creative Director of Taillight Communications.