5 Steps to Concise Copy

Ian Lurie

Brevity is the soul of wit (Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
Online, concise copy will always get better results than verbose copy.
How can I make that sentence shorter and give it more oomph?

  1. Dump the passive voice.
    Online, concise copy will always get gets better results than verbose copy.
  2. Get rid of meaningless words. Concise copy is always better, right? Plus folks are reading this online.
    Online, Concise copy will always get gets better results than verbose copy.
  3. Get rid of repeated words.
    In copy, concise copy gets better results than verbosecopy.
  4. Replace four words with one.
    In copy, concise gets better results than beats verbose.
  5. Make sure it reads OK. In this case, I’m not thrilled with my phrasing. A little rejiggering does the trick:
    Concise copy beats verbose.

The result is better. This:
Online, concise copy will always get better results than verbose copy.
became this:
Concise copy beats verbose.

For tutorial purposes, I took this to an extreme. If I were writing this sentence, I might compromise a bit and write something more like ‘Concise copy beats verbose copy’ or ‘In copywriting, brief is better’.

What tricks do you use?

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Ian Lurie
Founder

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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