Copywriting Curiosities
  The writing tips your English teacher forgot to give you... February 2004  

In This Issue

The Low-Carb Writing Diet

5 Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Writing

The Low-Carb Writing Diet

Low-carb diets are in. This isn't news. But did you know that your writing should be "low-carb" as well? Sticky words that bloat writing include "very" and "really." They're adverbs that don't "really" do anything. The only thing they add to your writing is an increased word count and a diluted message.

Your writing should be lean, and the words you choose should have muscle. "Beautiful" is stronger and leaner than "really pretty." "Great" and "excellent" are stronger and leaner than "very good."

Many people make the mistake of using bigger words when simpler ones will do. Big, empty words are like high-carb foods -- they feel comforting at first, but they just add unnecessary weight. Instead of "utilize," say "use." Instead of "purchase," try "buy."

Remember, like any other diet regimen or exercise program, good writing takes practice, practice, practice. Here's to a healthy and fit writing life in 2004!


Is your writing lacking energy? Our low-carb diet and exercise routine will whip your copy back into shape.

  • 5 Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Writing

  • #1 Avoid Bloated Words
  •    Strike those high-carb words that bloat your writing (usually they're redundant adverbs or adjectives). If you have a choice between a simple word and a long word, choose the simple word. Don't make your readers work harder than they have to.

  • #2 Keep Active
  •    Writing needs to stay active (just like your body). Avoid the passive voice. Instead of saying, "the ball was thrown by Pedro," say, "Pedro threw the ball." Hear the difference? Active voice sounds better and gives your writing forward motion.

  • #3 Count "Word" Calories
  •    Do you count calories? Do the same with words. Keep sentences below 15 words. If you need to use a long sentence, make sure you surround it with shorter ones. A good rule of thumb? If you have to take more than two breaths while reading the sentence aloud, it's too long.

  • #4 Avoid "fatty" semicolons
  •    Semicolons store fat (usually in the form of two long phrases that would work better as separate sentences). Again, your goal is to make life easy for your reader. If you feel the need to use a semicolon, stop! Turn the sentence into two shorter sentences.

  • #5 Lose Punctuation Weight
  •    Even punctuation wants to "slim down." In the old days, we were taught to use two spaces after a period. In the age of computers and word processors, one space is fast becoming the accepted practice. Don't take our word for it -- check with your client, employer, or professor about what they want. Can't get out of the habit of using two spaces even though your boss demands one? Don't worry. Use the "Find and Replace" feature in your word processing program until your fingers get used to doing it on their own.

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