Grassroots Copywriting

Sharp, modern copywriting for web and print. Based in Pembrokeshire, we craft quality content for clients across the UK.

Be a better writer: 3 (free) tools you’ll dig

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You want your business to present its best face to the world, don’t you? Perception is everything, and (of course) that includes the way you use the written word.

I’d recommend that you get in a professional. Yes, I know, you’re now shaking your head wearily at a shameless sell, but bear with me.

I’m NOT recommending me, or any of the other dedicated, talented – and affordable – commercial writers out there. They would almost certainly do a much better job than you will; sorry, but it has to be said.

Get in a specialist, or recruit one to your staff. Your time would be better spent doing that thing that you are brilliant at.

However, if I can’t convince you, I can at least recommend some handy tools that I reckon make me a better writer.

1, Readability.

I love that the people behind the Hemingway app decided to name their writing aid after Ernest Miller Hemingway, the poster boy for simple sentence structure. But it does cost money, while you can strip away complexity in much the same way by using Word’s built-in readability function.

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First you need to find it. When you have a new Word doc on your screen look in the ‘File’ drop-down and you’ll find an ‘Options’ button. Click on that and you’ll then be presented with ‘Proofing’ as a choice.

When you click on ‘proofing’ you should see a series of checkboxes. Tick the one that offers ‘Show readability statistics’ and you will be opting in.

With the box ticked you are given a readability measure every time you complete a spell check on your writing.  You can then save and do a re-write (or a series of re-writes) to improve your readability score. The higher the score, the better.

The tool uses a simple formula that dates back to the 1940s. The system is based on the assumption that writing is easier to read – and communicates more effectively – when sentences are short, and the writer uses simple words.

2, 25 Headlines.

The idea here is that good copywriters aren’t born, they practice. This free-to-use page encourages you to keep working on your headlines until you conjure up with the very best heading you can.

While you are working on your headlines you’re given a character count, which stops you getting too wordy. Personally, I think life is too short to write 25 headlines for each and every piece of writing, but it is useful to force yourself to write five or six alternatives.

3, Grammarly.

Word has its spelling and grammar checker, but Grammarly promises you more. It says it will make sure that everything you write is easy to read, does its job and is purged of all errors.

And it will sharpen up what you write, but can only go so far. Don’t assume that you can do without a decent editor and/or proofreader.

When it is put to the test Grammarly does pretty well. For example, Grammarist found that it could pick up 70 per cent of the errors that had been planted in a sample text.

Assume that some problems will still get through. It’s not a safety net, but will improve your product.

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