Archive for the ‘Good copy’ Category

Ovarian cancer: “Those words still haunt me”

Friday, March 1st, 2013

We often talk on this blog about how having real people tell their stories can be a great way of getting a message across. We also talk a lot about the power of short, simple, human words.

This new video, designed to raise awareness about the symptoms of ovarian cancer, is a great example of both.

Everyone in the video has experienced ovarian cancer in their family. I defy you to watch it without shedding a tear (and putting your hand in your pocket).

Please watch and share.

Disclaimer (more…)

Writing about diversity? Then keep it real

Monday, February 25th, 2013

A client recently asked me to help them with a brochure about their efforts to promote gender diversity at the firm. The job involved interviewing the company’s female leaders about their experiences of the workplace.

During the interviews, one name kept cropping up as the company that got diversity right: McKinsey.

This consulting firm, every interviewee said, really knew how to look after its women. It was the firm they all regarded as the model for any company trying to build a more inclusive culture. I suspected it was the firm they all secretly wanted to work for.

Intrigued, I decided to check out the section about diversity on McKinsey’s site. (more…)

Could you say it more simply?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

At Doris and Bertie, we hate annoying jargon and pretentious gobbledygook.

So we were delighted to discover the Up-Goer Five text editor. This online tool challenges you to describe an idea using only the most common 1,000 words in English. (more…)

Now here’s how you write an apology…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

On a recent trip to her local cinema, a good friend of mine had to abandon the film half way through because a fight broke out between other customers. Horrific, eh?

So she contacted Curzon, the cinema operator, via its website. She was hoping for a refund but didn’t really expect to hear anything back.

Soon afterwards, however, she got an email from Nigel Stowe, Director of Operations at Curzon. Nigel’s letter thoroughly delighted her – and we can see why. It’s a great example of how a well-executed apology can translate a disaster into customer loyalty. (more…)

25 quick business writing tips (and a link to 100 more)

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

1. For writing that’s easy to read, make friends with the full stop.

2. Be concrete, not abstract. Call a hose a hose, not a fluid transfer solution.

3. “However”: if in doubt, punctuate with full stop, cap, comma. However, there are exceptions.

4. Capitalising job titles? One writer I know was taught to save caps for “God, the Queen and the Editor”.

5. It may look odd, but there’s only one apostrophe in the phrase “Dos and Don’ts”.

6. “While” sounds less pretentious than “whilst”.

7. You don’t need a hyphen with adverbs ending in “ly”: a “happily married couple”.

8. Ditch the corporate throat clearing: go back and see if you can cut your first paragraph.

9. “The data are” or “the data is”? Just choose whatever you think your reader would prefer.

10. Yes, you can split an infinitive. Trust your ears, not rules invented by 18th-century grammarians.

11. Both “under” and “way” are in the dictionary. “Underway”, however, is not.

12. “Don’t” is friendlier than “do not”, though non-native speakers may prefer it spelt out.

13. Remember: “e.g.” = “for example”; “i.e.” = “that is”. They aren’t interchangeable.

14. Don’t overuse “scare quotes” – they make you look like you lack “conviction”. See?

15. The past tense of “lead” is “led”, not “lead”.

16. To quote Hemmingway, “every first draft is s**t”. Always go back and edit.

17. Be active, not passive: “we will send you the document”, not “the document will be sent to you

18. Watch out: “loose” rhymes with “goose”, “lose” rhymes with “choose”.

19. As Mervin Block says, if it’s not necessary to leave a word in, it’s necessary to leave it out.

20. Remember the three “Cs” of great business writing: it’s clear, concise and conversational.

21. Use “comprises of” to sound like an illiterate estate agent. Otherwise, just “comprises”.

22. Never use the jargon “revert” for “reply” – especially if you work with non-native speakers.

23. If your wife compares you “to” George Clooney, be flattered. If she compares you “with” him, be worried.

24. Hyphens aren’t optional. Consider the difference between “extra-marital sex” and “extra marital sex”.

25. Look! No apostrophe: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s etc.

100 more quick writing tips