Expressing yourself with words is a wonderful ability, but it can also be highly frustrating – particularly if you experience a bout of writer’s block or simply struggle to see obvious mistakes time and time again. It’s not always easy to spot errors in your own work, but thankfully there are many things you can do to not only improve your overall writing skills, but to continuously communicate in the most articulate way possible.

Concentration, alongside a selection of super-specific editing tricks, will stand you in good stead to write poetry, novels, web copy, articles, blog posts, and many other kinds of literature, so take a look at the following tips:

1. Get the reader onside and ask questions which make them say “yes”

First impressions count, so be sure to draw the reader in from the start by asking questions which make them say “yes.” The more they say “yes”, the more your product or service will be relevant to their needs, meaning they’ll be more likely to invest. This kind of persuasive and emotive writing is a call-to-action and is particularly important if you’re trying to market a product, as what you are offering needs to appeal to your target audience – instantly.

Unfortunately, it’s a rather dog-eat-dog world and, if the consumer can’t see what you’re offering straight away, they might close your brochure, throw your leaflet in the bin, bounce of your webpage, and simply go elsewhere. Sound harsh? Well, it’s reality, so make them feel like you know what they need and help them.

2. Space your content out

In order to catch and maintain the interest of readers, you need to make your content as easy to absorb as possible. Large blocks of text can seem intimidating and overwhelming, so be sure to tap the enter button every one-to-three sentences. This is particularly important when writing for the web, as users spend an average of 15 seconds on a webpage so there isn’t long to keep them engaged.

Negative – or blank – space is a common trick used by both photographers and designers to create a focal point, but it can also be used by writers to draw attention to something important. It also gives readers a time to digest what they’ve read, gather their thoughts, and take a breath before carrying on the reading process.

3. Make the most of in-text formatting

To prevent all words from running into one another and to ensure a reader doesn’t miss anything important, why not make the most if in-text formatting? Everything from italicising and CAPITALISING, to backlinking and bolding your key benefits will help capture a reader’s attention and make certain points stand out. As humans, we are wired to detect things that are different or new, so stylistic changes can help people to focus.

4. Help your readers out by using bullet points

After a hard day at work, would you rather scan a large block of text for the information you’re looking for, or casually browse a list of bullet points containing all the essential text you need? The latter is, of course, more appealing, as not only are bullet points easy to read but they can help to:

  • Organise your text and make it more readable
  • Highlight key points and things you really shouldn’t miss
  • Summarise surrounding text in a clear, concise way
  • Offer a stylistic change encouraging readers to focus

5. Start sentences with trigger words

People download books to their Kindle or flick through pages of a novel because the stories they read excite them in many different ways. Reading is, ultimately, an enjoyable experience, so no matter what you write, try to keep the magic of literature alive. In other words, don’t just drone on and on, but instead think carefully about how your copy is arranged, and start sentences with trigger words which will evoke feelings of nostalgia or spark the imagination.

Words such as “imagine”, “remember”, or “picture this” let readers know that you’re about to tell them a story or jog their memory in some way, and this will encourage them to read on and find out more about what you have to say.

6. Try to use the word “because” as often as you can – without sounding strange

Think carefully and you’ll see that the word “because” is used to justify an action. It explains why you should (or shouldn’t) be doing something, and is an excellent word to incorporate into all kinds of persuasive copy (particularly sales related) as it gives people a reason to act.

Imagine you’re a mum looking to buy the latest computer game for her son, for instance. You might not be overly convinced that your boy needs another distraction, but that important word “because” in the sales copy might just tempt you and convince you to do so.

7. Speak confidently in the active voice

As mentioned above, you’ve mere seconds to catch people’s attention, so it’s a good idea to speak in the active voice rather than the passive. This will make your statements sound more lively and confident, helping readers stay alert.

  • Active voice = the subject is doing the action
  • Passive voice = the subject is receiving the action


  • Mo Farah won the 5,000m gold medal in 2012 – active
  • The 5,000m gold medal was won by Mo Farah in 2012 – passive

In order to spice up your copy, you can press CTRL-F to find passive words like “by” and work to make the sentence more interesting.

8. Rewrite your copy using the second person

One of the best ways to connect with a reader on a personal level is to use pronouns like “you”, “your”, and “yours” as this instantly makes people feel like you are talking to them on a one-to-one basis. Getting into the hearts and minds of people you’ve never met before is an incredibly difficult thing to do, but by knowing your target audience and simply writing in the second person will make it a whole lot easier.

9. Make the most of punchy verbs rather than adverbs

Want your writing to be outstanding rather than average? Avoid the wishy-washy adverb-verb combo and instead opt for a punchy verb. For example, instead of writing, “She’s very cross”, you could write, “she’s irate” as this gets to the point quicker and is sharper. It’s far too easy to bulk your copy out with unnecessary adverbs, so scan what you’ve written and make the relevant tweaks.

10. Make sure your call to action is up to scratch

Before you print a batch of leaflets or do a mass email send, make sure your call-to-action is up to scratch. Not only should it be worded properly (and spelt correctly), but it must also be clear, concise, bold, visible, urgent, and compelling. In other words, it should not be generic or boring such as “call now to find out more”, but engaging and exciting such as “make a booking now for an adventure you’ll never forget.”

Writing is one thing, but ordering words in such a way that they are interesting, intriguing and inspiring is a more challenging prospect altogether, but the above ten tips should certainly help.

This article originally appeared on Minerva Copywriting and has been republished with permission.