Warning: over-used devices can drastically damage your copy

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Less is more so they say -whoever they are. That has just been rammed home to me while reading a book by and about a company that I really admire.  I love what they do and am a big, big fan of their copywriting.

However I found one device they use in the book very irritating and that’s only because they’ve used it so often.  By the time I got to the end of page two and had counted ten instances (because that’s the kind of sad person I am) it really began to rankle.

It became like a constantly barking dog. You know, bark, bark, bark followed by a moment’s silence during which you sit waiting for it to start again. And it always does.

The device I’m talking about is brackets.  There they are sprinkled over every page like Hundreds of Thousands.

Now I like starting sentences with and or but. Placed well they can add sparkle, emphasis or humour to your copy.However I would never use either word more than once on a page.  When I’m writing website copy I’m careful not to use them too much throughout the site let alone on one page. Another device that gets abused is the exclamation mark. Too many of them weakens their effect and I think it cheapens copy.

Over-use of anything is irritating. Take ubiquitous ‘celebrities’ who will endorse anything AND present any show that’s going no-matter what the topic.  Irritating.  The trick is to use a device well and use it sparingly. That way you’ll get maximum impact.

And I’m not going to name names. Not even the ubiquitous celebrity.

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

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