Writing Effective Copy

Well-written copy is key to communicating effectively with our audiences. The following are brief guidelines to writing good copy. If you require further information about copywriting, or help with any specific copy, please contact Sam Winter sw171@le.ac.uk ext.3613.

As well as these guidelines, the University also has a series of style conventions which should be used. 

Writing is a lot easier if you have something to say

It is key to think about what your copy needs to say. Consider things such as:

  • Where is your reader  in their decision-making process?

  • How old are they?

  • How much experience do they have?

  • Is the copy to be read by anyone else?

Be relevant. Stick to your main points and be believable. Back up your assertions with evidence.

Start with what will matter to your reader, not what you think is most important

Ensure your copy is relevant to your audience. Make sure that you clarify why something is important to them, rather than just listing it. For example:

Our staff are involved in leading research"

This may be true but why is it relevant?

Our staff are involved in leading research, which means you will benefit from being taught by people leading the developments in your subject area"

This is much better. The most convincing copy is written from the point of view of your audience.

Don't include too much detail

This is way too much information:

In the third week of semester two you choose between three options depending on the specialism chosen in semester one."

Instead you could change the sentence to:

During your first year you will study options including…"

 

Keep it brief

Keep your sentences short at around 15-20 words. Use bullet points if this communicates your message more clearly and succinctly. Simplicity is key.

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do
Thomas Jefferson.

Avoid jargon and use everyday English.

The standard guidance is: if you wouldn’t use a word in conversation don’t use it in your writing.

However, in terms of jargon, it is best to use this guidance: if your audience wouldn't use a word in conversation then don’t use it in your writing.

If you are not 100% sure that your audience will understand a word, take it out or explain it.

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'. Otherwise you'll have no words left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
CS Lewis

Use instructions which clearly direct your reader

Such as "please complete…" or "please forward to us...". This is clearer than "You may wish to…" and ensures the reader understands what is required from them.

Make your writing personal and engaging

Use ‘you’ rather than ‘the student’ and ‘we’ rather than ‘the University’. This helps to build a rapport with our audiences. Try to avoid passive sentence construction - use the active voice where possible. Vary the structure of your sentences to stop people mentally 'nodding off'.

Always proof read and revise

It is helpful to ask someone else to do this for you if possible. Other people will bring a fresh set of eyes to your copy and may notice things you have missed or typos that may have crept in and can tell you if your copy communicates well.

Failing that, leave your copy for a few hours, or even better over night, then re-read it the following day. It is likely you will have a different perspective on what you have written. Don't be afraid to edit and look out for where you may have 'wriiten yourself in' to the subject.

Also, try reading the document out loud and/or test it on your current students.

Share this page:

Print communications contact

Sam Winter
Senior Marketing Officer
sw171@le.ac.uk
0116 252 3613

Contact us

For project requests, please complete this form.

For all other enquiries, please contact the External Relations Division by email:
ERD-requests@le.ac.uk or call 0116 223 1756

All staff in the External Relations Division are based in Enkalon House on Regent Road.