These days, we’re mostly too busy copywriting for clients to blog for ourselves. But rather than take down what’s now a 20-year+ archive of posts and newsletters, we’re leaving this final post with highlights from two decades of strongly held opinions about B2B copywriting.
Here’s a selection of the most popular posts, plus our own personal favourites.
1. Starting sentences with ‘And’, ‘But’ and ‘So’: the definitive answer. This post dates back to 2011, when we were fed up of being asked whether it was OK to do this. Today, despite the fact that it is (and always has been) very much OK, the occasional eyebrow is still raised. Which probably explains why this post has always kept the top spot on the website.
2. Behold the Jargon Matrix. This 2015 post was a reaction to 15 years of translating corporate-speak into more meaningful language. It’s interesting to see how little has changed in the intervening years.
3. Active voice. Straight in at number 3 is this matter-of-fact explanation of the active voice from the A to Z of Plain Text. It’s probably popular because so much copywriting advice hammers home the importance of always, always, having active sentences. It’s more nuanced than that, of course; but a bit of active voice often lifts humdrum copy.
4. Are you “post pedantic”? Take the Plain Text test. Where are you on the pedantry spectrum? This post will tell you. Language evolves, which is what inspired us to rise up against the excesses of the grammar police.
5. The Waterstone’s apostrophe. Who care’s? Folk get mightily vexed about apostrophes, sometimes rightly so and sometimes just for the hell of it. In this post we argued for leniency in this confusing area.
Three personal favourites
Mugged by the Suits. This was great fun to write back in 2002 and we gave it a bump a few years ago. It’s an imagined “before and after” of a tech company press release and the “before” version is still scarily close to what still gets published today, 20 years on.
In praise of innit. A short post in solidarity with the UK English slang word “innit”, which is tremendously useful although still not quite acceptable in B2B copywriting.
From aha! to WTF? When good business writing goes bad. Anyone whose job involves creating anything will know the feeling when their creation is reviewed and amended by someone who just doesn’t “get” it. Like the first tech press release in Mugged by the Suits above, the final draft of this fictional brochure is much closer to reality than it should be.