How do you know if your copy is good? Or bad? And how do you tell the difference? Well, follow these six easy tips and your copy will certainly fall into the “good” category.
1) Print out your copy
Staring at your copy on a computer screen can make it hard to spot errors. It is easier to detect mistakes on a printed page, especially if it’s your own writing. So print off your copy and settle back on the sofa with a cup of coffee for a little proofreading.
2) Read your copy out loud
When you read your copy aloud, you’ll hear any word repetitions, clumsy words, too-long sentences and general awkwardness in the text. Awkwardness is the last thing you want, because it means your reader will find it awkward too. Your aim is to write conversationally, as if writing to a friend. You don’t want to be formal. So, read out loud and check for anything that needs to be fixed.
3) Check for one type of edit at a time
You need to do different types of editing and it’s best to do this one at a time. For example, one type of editing should involve checking for spelling and grammar errors, missed out words such as “not”, or often-misused words such as “they’re, their, or there”. Also pay attention to missing or incorrect apostrophes.
The second type of editing is checking clarity and accuracy in your copy. Is your copy clear? Are there better (usually shorter) word choices that can make your writing punchier? And importantly, do you get your message across effectively? Do you need to use more examples to back up claims and clarify a point? Should you use more testimonials? Are there too many passive sentences when you should be using action verbs instead?
Focus on one editing task at a time so you can really zero in any areas that need work. Reading your copy aloud will help you do this.
4) Check for these 4 copywriting sins…
What are the four sins that can ruin your copy? They are:
1. Awkward – does the text run smoothly or not?
2. Confusing – is anything unclear?
3. Unbelievable – are there any facts that need checking?
4. Boring – is the text so dull in parts you stop reading?
You will need someone else to help you with this one. What you should do is give your copy to several people (if possible) and ask them to read it with the four sins in mind. Ask them to mark your text so you can then make any necessary changes. And ask them to be honest!
5) Make Use of Track Changes
If you use Word, Track Changes can be a big help. It allows you to track your editing as well as accept or reject any changes. And it’s very handy for keeping tabs on anyone else who is editing your work.
6) Check the readability
Word has another useful function – it enables you to check the “show readability statistics” under your preferences for Spelling and Grammar. This is a great tool when you are proofreading your copy.
Once Word has done a spelling and grammar check, a screen will flash up giving your text’s readability score. This score measures three things:
The first is your percentage of passive sentences. You want to make sure you have a lot more action verbs. Action verbs strengthen your copy while passive sentences weaken it.
The second is the Flesch reading ease. The best copywriters aim to keep this around 80% or better. This is not always possible, especially if your copy has many technical terms.
The third score is the Flesch-Kincaid grade level, which rates your copy according to U.S. school grade levels. You should aim for your copy to be at sixth grade level, no matter the age or intelligence of your audience. Keeping your text in this level makes your message easier to read.
So, these are the six tips. Follow each one and you’ll considerably improve the quality – and effectiveness – of your copy.
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