Quick Copywriting

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Advice and help for would be copywriters

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Copywriters Often Have Little Regard For The Appearance Of What They Write...

Hopeless. This in itself is allowable; but many of them seem to have little regard for the appearance of what they write, which isn't.

Their ideas may be admirable, yet the way they present them is criminal. Headlines are printed as one long, single queue right across the page, with no thought for the reader, i.e. the visualizer/designer/account executive/client.

And body copy is literally chucked on to the paper - the words often scampering over the edge like typographical lemmings. To my simple mind, this is laziness well carried out.

I refute absolutely the notion that such is the inevitable side-effect of an artistic temperament. Moreover, as I've said, it helps nobody - including the typographer and, now and again, the compositor. If you, the writer, neglect to balance your headlines on the printed page, decline to break lines at natural pauses, omit to show where the second or third clauses, or elements, begin and end, don't be at all surprised if the finished ad fails to scan.

During the typing of a line, I've often found better ways of phrasing it simply from the look of the thing. Ambiguity, for instance, and clumsy phrasing, shows up as the words go down. It therefore pays to put it on paper the way you wish to see it in print. Now and again, I go one step farther and scribble a rough layout for a given ad.

Unarguably, one should have a good relationship with the visualizer before presuming to move into the recondite world of design, otherwise you risk derision at best, or a black eye at worst. I should also stress that these scribbles, which are no more than 'thumbnails', are for my benefit alone and are for the purpose of assessing the look of the words once they hit the page.

Similarly, I can assess exactly how much or how little I can get away with. Take an idea for a prestige ad for a construction company which has undertaken a massive building programme on, say, the island of Orkney. The programme cost £70 million and took ten years to complete. For whatever reason, we are given a double-page spread to do the job.

However, no pictures or illustrations are available. So we have a lot of space and very little to put into it. What we do have, though, is a list of twelve building projects and their individual costs. In which case, I might write: Left-hand webpage THIS LIST REPRESENTS £70,000,000-WORTH OF BUILDING PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN IN THE ORKNEYS IN THE LAST TEN YEARS Kirkwall Civic Centre £3,500,000 (Plus 11 more) Right-hand webpage THIS LIST REPRESENTS THE COMPANIES RESPONSIBLE Charterhouse Construction Limited (Logo/Address/Telephone) Building Design Civil Engineering � Project Manage- ment Site Management � Plant Hire � Building Construction Like that it looks quite a mess - but like this, it doesn't: 's he wrin a nuthing else, t at least give you ainsight into the thinking behind concept work. Rule 9 Every headline should be the best you've ever written.

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