Tight copywriting: What is it and how can you get it?

Tight shirt - like tight copywriting and editing!

If you want your copywriting to be just like you bought it from the shop, it needs to be tight. But what does ‘tight copywriting’ really mean?

Imagine your copywriting as a wet towel.

You have to wring out all the excess water before you can use it, and that’s what ‘tightening’ your copywriting is.

It’s getting rid of excess adjectives, superlatives, metaphors and …waffle.

You might be wondering how your blog post, web copy or brochure can possibly be interesting once you take out all the ‘good bits’.

Painting a mental picture for your reader is important, as is telling a story. However, copywriting that’s too wordy wastes your reader’s time and makes your message harder to understand. It’s also a sign that you don’t know what you want to say.

Good copywriting doesn’t use a single unnecessary word. That’s what tight copywriting is.

Here are some handy tips to help you wring out your marketing copy.

Declutter your copywriting

We’re all tempted to pad out our writing with unnecessary words and they should be the first to go. Try cutting words like great, some, many, quite, only, even, that, really, and actually (to name a few) from your copywriting and see if your sentence still makes sense.

I bet it does.

Use the active, not the passive voice

A passive sentence describes something being done to someone or something. It doesn’t ask people to do something; it describes things that have been or will be done. Passive sentences feel impersonal and indirect. You want to speak directly to your readers so:

Passive: Your query will be addressed by our marketing manager.

Active: Our marketing manager will call you or email you soon.

In the above example, the sentence describes what’s being done to your query.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

It’s tempting to think that more words equal more expertise, or that longer words mean a more trustworthy voice. Complexity is not a sign of intelligence.

Look for phrases, jargon and other language that can be simplified.

Due to the fact that… Because

Endeavour… Try

Assist… Help

Ensure… Make sure

Please don’t hesitate to call… Please call us

Enquire… Ask

Commence… Start or begin

In error… By mistake

In regards to… About

Keep your paragraphs short.

Long paragraphs encourage readers to skip right over them. Keep paragraphs short and to the point. They’ll be easier on the eye so easier to read. 

It’s important to be ruthless during your editing phase. Ask yourself: Can I make my point without this word? And this one? And that one too? I bet you can.

Good luck!

The Copy Detective

Hey, heads up. This post was originally written as a guest post for my good friends at Grassroots Internet Strategy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>