7 Devastating Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Writing engaging articles and energizing ad copy takes more than just typing out what you want to say. By correcting these major mistakes, your copy will soar to newfound heights. While there are many common mistakes made by copywriters, seven in particular are deadly.

Mistake One: Don't take that tone with me!

Many writers fail to write to their intended audience by writing in a general or wrong tone. Either way is costly. It is important to identify and write to the intended audience. Review the following two statements to see how the same information differs based on the intended audience.

Audience One is comprised of computer neophytes.

Move your mouse pointer over to the START icon, which is located in the lower left area of your computer screen. Next, click your left mouse button one time. Your start menu should now be displayed.

Audience Two is comprised of knowledgeable computer users.

Open up your START menu.

Notice the stark contrast between the two examples. If we continued with the examples, "Audience Two" would be spoken to in more technical terms whereas "Audience One" would be spoken to in very simple terms with every action described in full detail.

Mistake Two: Welcome to the claims department.

Most non-fiction writing, especially ad copy, makes a claim of some sort. Hard to believe claims destroy credibility. The golden rule of claims: Always support your claims fully.

I can't believe it!

When a claim sounds too good to be true, credibility is lost. Perhaps the ad copy is claiming that a person can lose up to 300 pounds in 30 days on a certain type of program. The more substantial the claim, the more support required. Still, if the claim is hard to believe, all the support in the world won't help much.

4 out of 5 dentists agree.

A claim made must be supported. An article reporting that 4 out of 5 dentists agree about using a certain product must include the supporting evidence. Never expect people to take your word for it, because they won't.

Mistake Three: So enough about you, what about me?

Have you ever visited a website or heard an ad that chimed in with "we here at [insert company name] believe??" The majority of people will react by simply ignoring the copy all together. It is important to build up a rapport with the reader before talking about yourself-if possible. The reader must first be given a reason as to why he or she should care. This mistake is most common in ad copy. Focus on the reader first and foremost.

Mistake Four: Could you repeat that?

Repetitious wording occurs when a word is used that was previously written in close proximity. Try to keep sentences fresh and flowing with new words. This is a great reason to pick up a thesaurus and learn some word alternatives. In ad copy it is sometimes necessary to use a word more than once for effect. An example of this would be: Excellent service. Excellent selection. Excellent prices.

Don't do this

I really like the quality of the shoes and the overall quality of the store. Store X is an all around high-quality establishment.

Notice the word "quality" was used three times quickly. These two sentences should be rewritten with the world quality being used only once.

Mistake Five: At this present time, the fact of the matter is, you are reading this article.

This mistake plagues us all because our normal speech is full of redundancies. Some redundancies are simply two words that say the same thing, while others are phrases that repeat something previously mentioned in the sentence. Fluffing up text does not make for good writing or reading. Let's look at some examples.

"It is a true fact."

Is there a false fact? Revised: "It is a fact."

"I found a total of 927 websites with my name on them."

Eliminate "total of". Revised: "I found 927 websites with my name on them."

"The future to come is full of surprises."

The future is something to come, which is why it is called the future and not the present or past. Stating "future to come" is wordy and does nothing to enhance the reading experience. Revised: "The future is full of surprises."

To find out more, visit your favorite search engine, and look for results under these terms:

  • Pleonasm
  • Redundant writing

Mistake Six: You're its owner therefore it's yours.

It is amazing how four simple words can become a virtual wrecking ball to the prose of so many. The four words are: its, it's, your, and you're

Its

This is possessive and has no apostrophe. Example: Put your hand on its mouth.

It's

This version has the apostrophe and means "it is." Example: It's mine.

Your

Again, this is the possessive and has no apostrophe. Example: Your car is stalled.

You're

With the apostrophe, it means "you are." Example: You're smiling at me.

Many writers make this mistake because it's simple to do. Writing fast will increase the possibility of making this mistake, which is why rereading your copy many times is crucial.

Mistake Seven: I think I can. Well, maybe I can try.

It is important that the reader feels secure about the author, which is why writing in a passive voice will render the prose helpless. It is very easy to use passive writing without knowing it because everyday speech is filled with passivity. Recognizing passive writing and replacing it will make a tremendous difference in your copy.

Passive: The final exam was failed by over half of the students.

Active: Half of the students failed the exam.

Notice the difference between the two sentences. Overcoming this mistake takes practice-as does learning to write well.

Ad copy should be dripping in confidence. Word selection and order are extremely important. Using words like "try" should be omitted when possible.

Common Example: "We work to make our clients happy."

Rewrite: "We have satisfied clients." or "We will make you happy."

In the "Common Example", it implies that you might not be happy. The company will "work" to make you happy, but there is no guarantee they can. In the rewrite, the implication is removed by altering the text.

Crafting solid prose takes practice. By running this checklist against your copy and correcting mistakes, it will become more effective. Every printed word is priceless. A single word or sentence can cause decent copy to fail. Should you require a copywriter, visit my website.

©2005 Jason Andrew Martin LLC

Jason A. Martin has been conducting business on the Internet for 11 years. He is a copywriter and entrepreneur. Mr. Martin is currently working on obtaining a degree in Journalism and Law. He runs the Internet business site: Internet Business Entrepreneur.

His official web site, which contains articles you can use for your web site, can be viewed at: Jason A Martin

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