Make each word count

A colleague at a recent job had this quote from Mark Twain in her email signature: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

One of the greatest challenges I’ve found as a writer is to strip out unnecessary words and write as little as possible. I think that’s especially hard for people like me who’ve done marketing writing for brochures or web pages where space wasn’t a major concern. When I started doing content for an online banking application, and particularly for phones, suddenly space was at a premium.

On my first mobile project I was concerned that making it too short would sound abrupt. I worked with a good mobile writer who really helped me strip out the extra words and get to the point. That came in very handy when I had to write extremely short banner ads. The business line would send me ad copy they liked and I’d have to cut it down drastically but still convey a similar theme. The shorter ads take much longer to write than the longer ones.

Even if you’re not currently writing for very small spaces, it would be a good exercise to practice stripping down some marketing content to see if you can get the message across in half the words, or even less. Doing that makes you focus on what’s essential and cut the fluff.

About Pat Wolesky

I consider myself primarily a communicator, and I have 15 years of communication experience which includes product brochures and data sheets, ads, direct mail, press releases, Web content, trade show materials, online newsletters, training materials, and blogs (to name a few). I also have extensive experience in Web content management and knowledge management. Most recently I've been studying Search Engine Marketing, particularly Search Engine Optimization, and in late April of 2011 I completed training through Dakota County Technical College to be a Certified Master of Social Media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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