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Don’t Use No Double Negatives in your Copy

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But you can break plenty of other grammar rules.

Can I start my sentence with “And”?

Sure you can.

You can also use sentence fragments and end sentences with prepositions.

Sometimes in marketing, it’s not about constructing a sentence in perfect English – just constructing the perfect sentence.

It’s about impact.

But you have to know the rules before you break them. There is a big difference between choosing words…or punctuation… to create a mood and making grammar mistakes.

There’s no excuse for sloppy copy.

Recommended reading?

  • Elements of Style
  • APA Stylebook
  • The Copywriter’s Handbook
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why is this an okay way to write?

Because the best web copy sounds like how we speak.

It’s conversational. Informative.

Like you’re speaking to a professional colleague – an equal.

Language evolves over time.

The singular “they” was recently named the 2015 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society.

It’s now accepted by everyone from The Economist to The Washington Post.

Shakespeare added more than 1700 words to the English language.

Just think of how many new words have been invented since his time.(His works are suspiciously devoid of the words wifi and bagel.)

Web copy is not your senior thesis, nor is it a legal document.

You have just seconds to capture attention.

The tone that served you well when writing a paper on Napoleon or drafting a cease and desist letter will bore your web visitors to death.

(Shall we discuss bounce rate, anyone?)

Can you use slang?

Maybe. It depends on the tone you are trying to strike.

Feel free to call contract positions for technical professionals “gigs.” That term is unlikely to fly if you are recruiting c-level executives.

Knowing your audience is key.

What about jargon?

Sometimes. If you are looking for interim physicians, candidates and employers will know the term “locum tenens.”

If you operate in a field where jargon changes quickly, use it sparingly unless you are committed to updating your site on an ongoing basis.

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