Most of the time, copywriters are mild-mannered, easygoing creatures. They might shake a little bit now and then, but that’s probably just the coffee. Sometimes, though, they’re like grizzlies. It’s all cute and fuzzy and gambolling cubs and ‘awwwwww’… until someone steps on the wrong dry branch. Then it’s half a tonne of metaphorical teeth, claws and muscle coming straight for your throat. Stay safe when dealing with copywriters. Here are some triggers to avoid.

Exclamation marks!

You hardly ever need exclamation marks. Seriously. Get rid of them. They don’t add emphasis, or humour, or friendliness. They do make you sound a bit mad, especially if you use more than one in close proximity.

Sentences shouldn’t start with a conjunction.

OK. That’s what you were taught at school. But there’s no actual rule. Anywhere. Also – good copywriters do actually understand grammar. They just choose to ignore it sometimes. Because it’s always better to sound like a person.

Whilst, therefore, furthermore, hitherto, aforementioned etc…

Guys. This is not the 17th century, and you are not William Shakespeare. You’re trying to speak to people. You’re not declaiming to an audience of gruntlings.

Random Caps

Why do you put capital letters on words that don’t need them? When a word isn’t a proper noun. When it’s not someone’s job title. When it’s not even the name of a specific product or service you provide. What purpose does it serve? If the answer is ’emphasis’, there are better ways to do it.

“Our clients are well-educated / have money / professional so we need to be more formal.”

No. You don’t. You really, really don’t. What you need to be, for all your clients, is a reassuring presence. If you sound like a stern BBC announcer from the 1950s, that’s not going to happen. No matter who your clients are.

“Don’t use but – it’s too negative.”

‘But’ gets a hard rap. It’s like all people can see is the ‘but’ and nothing else around it. But it has a place if it presents a positive contrast. See what we did there?

Gotta say… EVERYTHING.

Fact of life – if you write a 3,000-word web page, nobody will read it. Another – if you put too much information in an email, nobody will remember any of it.