Recently these helpful tips popped up in my LinkedIn feed from ad agency Ogilvy and Mather. 

It outlines late founder David Ogilvy’s 10 tips on how to write.

His tips are in bold. You’ll see I’ve added my own two cents as well. 

1.   Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

 After a quick google search, I found this slideshare copy of it! So, no excuses now. Read up.

Writing That Works Roman-Raphaelson from Quynh LE

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

But, um, like, try and uh, like, avoid being too natural...

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. 

Do you use words like “perfidiousness” and “excogitate” when chatting with friends? Then don’t use them in your writing. We normal people don’t use those words either. Also, sentences that read like a paragraph leave me gasping for air.   

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are the hallmark of a pretentious ass.

Couldn’t have said it better, David. Also … irregardless? Not a word.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

Most people, like me, have a short attention span. Keep it simple, silly!

6. Check your quotations.

 Did you copy something from someone else? Give them credit!

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.

This one is a good one for all of us. Especially if you are responding to an email while the steam is pouring out of your ears. Trust me, you’ll regret hitting send. Take a minute. Breath. Sleep on it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

It’s always good to get someone who’s not as invested to give you a fresh perspective. We do this all the time before pitching an idea. Ask questions like, “Does this make sense?” “Does my point come across as well as I think it does?”

9. Before you send your letter or memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

Nothing is worse than getting your wires crossed through cyber space. Use point form, and don’t hint through your words. Be. Clear.

10. If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

I don’t know how many times my emails have gone ignored. But if I am all up in that guy or gal’s personal space, it’s amazing how quickly I get what I want done. Efficiency, I tell ya.

Seems pretty straight forward? Now, go forth and...write, right!


1 comment


by Eleanor

Woah – you shared the book itself! Sweet, thanks KJ.


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