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SalahSharief

7 common writing mistakes that could harm your business

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Writing mistakes in your business content can damage your brand. That’s because your written content isn’t just a marketing tool; it’s part of your brand identity. Great content improves your standing in the eyes of your customers, but error-strewn content, be it printed or digital, will drag your reputation down.

In this month’s article we identify 7 common writing mistakes, and examine how avoiding them can help your business to:

  • Showcase your expert knowledge
  • Provide proof of your attention to detail
  • Reassure customers
  • Boost your SEO

So, what are the common writing mistakes that so many businesses make?

  1. Spelling mistakes

Spelling mistakes look sloppy and careless. That’s especially true in this digital age where automated spelling checks detect most of the errors for you (although not all of them – more of that later). Beyond the reputational damage, spelling mistakes can affect other aspects of your marketing such as SEO. When the search engine algorithms analyse your documents, one of the things they look for is keywords. So, if you misspell those keywords, your articles and web pages won’t feature in search results.

Consider a keyword from our industry – copywriting (the act of producing written content). If a web page or article misspelled it as copyrighting (a legal action that grants the creator of intellectual property exclusive rights over its use), the visibility of the page/article would be diminished. And even if the article appeared as a result under copyrighting instead, anyone who clicked on it would swiftly realise that the content was irrelevant, and would click away again. If this happened too often, the algorithms would bury the article, causing disastrous results for online visibility.

  1. Punctuation mistakes

Punctuation mistakes have been blurring key messages ever since the famously un-punctuated zoo sign “eats shoots and leaves” transformed a gentle panda into a gun-slinging restaurant diner. Funny as that image is, punctuation mistakes can harm your brand image. We once walked past an organic deli who had listed their daily specials on a large board, complete with unnecessary apostrophes:

Pasty’s, Artichoke’s, Yoghurt’s, Aubergine’s, and local craft beer’s.

Not only is the possessive apostrophe incorrect (you don’t need an apostrophe for plurals), seeing the mistake listed over and over in large lettering made the business look careless and slapdash.

  1. Grammatical errors

Much like punctuation errors and spelling mistakes, the effect of grammatical errors is twofold. Firstly, it distracts your readers and secondly, it gives the impression that your content is shoddy and poorly-written. This translates into a negative perception of your products or services.

“Try our red velvet muffins, there delicious.”

“You’re garden will look great with our artificial grass!!”

If you work in a sector where expertise and precision are key – such as dentistry – shoddy writing gives the impression that your services are equally slapdash, which can be off-putting to potential customers.

As a side note, the automated editor for our word processing programme picked up the error in the second example sentence above, but not the first. Which leads us neatly to our next writing mistake…

  1. Word substitutions

Word substitutions are a common mistake in business content – especially so in these days of automation. That’s because predictive tools don’t always select the right word, and when they do select the wrong word, automated spelling checks won’t necessarily pick up the mistake.

Why? Well, using the wrong word doesn’t always render your sentence nonsensical; instead, it can alter the meaning of your words entirely. Imagine if a portrait photographer posted the following caption under one of their recent baby portraits:

“We think baby Jeremiah looks adorable!”

No harm there, just a sweet and inoffensive caption.

Now imagine if the same photographers posted the following caption instead:

“We think baby Jeremiah looks adopted!”

Predictive text often substitutes adopted for adorable, and as you can see, the substitution gives the caption a totally different meaning. One that could potentially cause huge offence to the customer.

In short, the implications of word substitutions can be seriously problematic for your business. Beyond making you look careless and unprofessional, these writing mistakes can cause real damage to your customer relationships, so avoid them at all costs.

  1. Factual errors

We’ll say it louder for the folk in the back….FACT CHECK YOUR CONTENT.

We shouldn’t need to say this, but: if you’re going to share information with your customers, PLEASE make sure the information is correct. Nothing damages customer trust like giving out the wrong information. In fact, it’s one of the worst writing mistakes you can make. Sometimes, factual errors can be minor, such as your website bio stating that your business opened in 1983, instead of 1984. Other times, factual errors can have more serious consequences. For example, making claims about the efficacy of a product or ingredient that simply aren’t true, or listing the wrong opening times and significantly inconveniencing your customers. Your customers make decisions based on the information you give them, and when that information is wrong, it can be hard to regain their trust.

  1. Typesetting

Typesetting errors aren’t, strictly speaking, a writing mistake, but their consequences can be disastrous. Wordsmiths once proofread a diary that was due be printed and distributed to eager customers. A diary that was impeccably designed and thoughtfully laid out, with crystal-clear fonts.

Unfortunately, during the typesetting process, the dates and days from February onward had been misaligned, rendering the entire document (save the 31 days of January) useless. Had this error not been detected before printing, the entire stock of diaries would have been wasted. Our unfortunate customer would have incurred hefty additional costs in refunds and/or reprints, not to mention significant reputational damage. The moral of the story is this: invest in a professional proofreading service, especially if you supply printed products.

  1. Style

Effective business content isn’t just about precision and accuracy, it’s about style. To convert your ideal audience, into paying customers, you need to deliver information in a relatable way. Take the following examples:

“Yo fam, our roasted turbot with samphire mousse is peng!!”

“Behold our sumptuous repast, comprised of a triumphant combination of ingredients, not the least of which are our golden chicken nuggets, glossy ketchup sachet, and crispy fries served in our distinctively-branded    cardboard container.”

Teenagers may connect with the street slang in first sentence, but if you’re trying to attract an older set of diners, the writing style is all wrong. Equally, the pretentious description in the second example is unlikely to appeal to the target audience of a local fast-food franchise. Style matters, which is why so many businesses invest in a professional copywriting service for their websites, brochures, and digital articles.

And now for the good news about writing mistakes.

You can avoid the first 6 writing mistakes by using a professional editing service. Wordsmiths offer editing and proofreading services tailored to the needs of business customers. So, why not get in touch to talk about your requirements? And if style is your issue, our experienced team of copywriters can create original SEO-friendly content from scratch. To ask about any of our services, drop us an email at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or call us on 07743 518681. You can also keep up with our latest news and special offers on our social accounts at Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive our articles and discounts first.

 

What is SEO copywriting (and how can it help your business)?

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SEO copywriting is an essential marketing tool for your business. But many business owners don’t understand SEO copywriting and the value it brings to their marketing strategy.

Great original content helps your website stand out from the crowd and rank higher in search engines. This gives your business increased online visibility, which is more important than ever as the already-crowded digital marketplace has grown exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s no two ways about it – a robust digital marketing strategy is a must for your business in 2020. SEO and SEO copywriting are a key part of this strategy.

To fully understand the value that SEO copywriting brings to your business, you first need to know how it works. So, we’ll explain SEO and SEO copywriting. And as a bonus, we’ll list 5 ways that SEO copywriting can boost your search ranking and your business.

1. What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimisation”. It’s a way of tailoring your digital content to the search engines so it ranks higher than content from other sites that use similar search terms. In practical terms, SEO includes things like mobile optimisation, structured data, link building, user intent, and – of course – high-quality SEO copywriting.

But what does that all mean?

Imagine that you’re cooking a meal for a vegan friend. You open Google, type “vegan recipe ideas”, and hit enter. The search engine presents you with a list of results – e.g. recipes, cookery videos, vegan blogs – that are relevant to your search terms. These results are listed in rank order by the search engine, and the ranking is based on search engine optimisation.

Search engines want to please their users and keep them coming back for more. So, the engines reward authoritative content that fully answers the readers’ questions and stands out from competing content, by giving it a higher ranking.

In a nutshell, SEO helps persuade the search engine that your content is worthy.

Ok, so what is SEO Copywriting?

You may be familiar with traditional copywriting: the art of creating written content (“copy”) that persuades the reader to buy a product, subscribe to a list, or take another action that will benefit your business. Traditional copywriters create compelling content to nudge your readers and convert them into paying customers. SEO copywriters create the same compelling content, but they use keywords and phrases in a way that appeals to the search engines as well as human readers.

In the early days of search engines, “keyphrase stuffing” – simply cramming an article with as many keywords as possible – could get you a higher ranking. Thankfully, today’s search engines are more advanced: they rank content based on the QUALITY of the writing. This means that SEO copywriters have to constantly refine and update their technique to keep up with the algorithms.

As a rule, high-quality SEO copy is GOOD writing. Readability and accessibility are key: copywriters should produce natural-sounding content with minimal repetition and a logical structure that educates, entertains, and enlightens your target audience. When SEO copywriting is done right people won’t just read your articles – they’ll love them.

So how can SEO copywriting help your business?

  1. It increases visibility and website traffic

The overall goal of SEO is to improve your search ranking, so your website is visible to more people. It aims to place your website at the top of the first search engine results page (SERPS).

Why does this matter?

Quite simply, when people look online for products or services using a keyword search, they mostly click on one of the top 3 articles listed and they rarely, if ever, click beyond the first page. That’s because these “top” results are seen as the most relevant and reputable. So even if a keyword search yields several pages of results, your website HAS to appear near the top of page one for people to visit it.

SEO copywriting increases your website´s search ranking, and drives more traffic to your site, meaning that more people will read and share your content. Along with other digital marketing strategies, makes your readers more likely to convert into paying customers.

  1. It earns trust and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for your brand.

In the modern world, trust and respect are everything. Today’s media savvy consumers will usually research a company before purchasing from them, so readers need to trust your brand.

SEO copywriting makes your website sound more trustworthy and professional. High-quality, well-researched content adds a sense of authority and expertise to your business which is attractive to new customers. As an added bonus, if you’re just launching your business, compelling and informative content provides an eye-catching introduction to your brand.

SEO copywriting gives your business the opportunity to engage readers and educate them. The result of good SEO copywriting is great content and a loyal, solid audience, both of which add value to your business.

  1. It saves you valuable time

Setting up an online marketing strategy is expensive, so it’s understandable if you decide to handle some aspects of marketing yourself to save money. When you’re looking to outsource the various marketing activities, weigh the financial costs against how much value – growth, exposure, reputation, leads – they bring to your company. Many business owners start off doing their own copywriting through their social media accounts and business blogs. After all, the internet is full of information about SEO and writing tips – how hard can it be?

The truth is that SEO copywriting can fast become overwhelming. Researching your articles and blog posts, choosing keywords, drafting, re-drafting, proofreading… the whole process takes up valuable time that could be better spent on developing your business. Even if you’re only producing short articles – say 400-500 words – there’s a knack to writing efficiently. In fact, shorter articles are often the hardest to write! Professional copywriters can produce quality content efficiently, often to short deadlines, leaving you free to focus on running your business.

  1. It targets your ideal audience

So, your Gran and her 35 friends read your first business blog post? Great. But if your business sells make up for teenagers, your Gran won’t be buying it. Remember – the ultimate aim of your content is to convert readers into customers. An experienced SEO copywriter knows how to target different demographics effectively, creating content that’s tailor-made for your dream audience.

  1. It defines your brand identity

Don’t underestimate the power of words. Yes, the appearance, speed and usability of your website affects the overall image of your business: but ultimately, you sell your brand with words.

Professional SEO copywriters deliver original content that dovetails with a clear content marketing strategy. They produce natural-sounding copy that attracts potential customers and reinforces the values that your business represents. When it’s done right, SEO copywriting helps define your brand’s identity and the values it holds dear.

And finally…

Great SEO copywriting needs great SEO copywriters. If you’d like to outsource your business copywriting, contact Wordsmiths. Our experienced copywriting team deliver content tailored to your business goals, targeting your ideal audience and delivering the results you need. To discuss your requirements, email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk. You can also get in touch and keep up with our latest news on our social accounts at Instagram and Facebook.

5 tips for writing an official statement – crafting the perfect crisis response

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Crises are unavoidable, so prepare yourself to manage them with a carefully-written official statement. 

A crisis can happen in any industry. In our digital world, bad news spreads like wildfire, and the effects on your business can be just as damaging. Reactions are heightened in times of crisis, so what you say, and how you say it, matters just as much as any actions you take. A well-written official statement can help you weather the storm and protect your business from reputational harm. But writing a public statement is a balancing act between damage limitation and transparency, and it’s not always easy to find the right words.

So this month, we share our top tips for writing a professional, timely response to keep your stakeholders informed and reassured.

  1. Be honest

We can’t stress this point enough; honesty is always the best policy. Being truthful minimises any damage to your credibility. Trust is a precious commodity for any business, and repairing broken trust can be an impossible task. And while we’re on the subject, never try to hide information. Modern consumers are wise to corporate double-speak, and they’ll spot any attempts to bend the truth. If customers or the media discover any dishonesty, your business could face intense criticism and catastrophic reputational damage. If your firm is at fault, admit it, avoid blaming other parties, and emphasise your organisation’s commitment to openness and transparency.

  1. Empathise and reassure

Official statements rarely contain good news, but avoid using negative language. Negativity will create a divide between your company and your key stakeholders: the public, your customers, and your employees.

Empathetic writing helps limit negativity: include words like “we understand” and “we acknowledge” to show people that you understand their concerns. It’s tempting to try and strike a reassuring tone, but avoid phrases like “these things happen”. It sounds patronising, and what’s worse it gives the impression that you’re trying to minimise the impact of the problem. In the same vein, don’t make defensive remarks either, as they sound seriously unprofessional and can damage your credibility.

Lastly, if you’re working to resolve the problem, then say so. Nothing is more reassuring than knowing that action is being taken. Useful phrases to include are “working closely with affected parties”, “taking appropriate measures”, and “taking immediate action”.

  1. Discuss negatives in a wider context

You can use this tactic to discuss incidents with a lesser impact. Let’s take late deliveries as an example: if a small number of deliveries were late, your statement could emphasise that your organisation has completed hundreds of other deliveries on time. You could also try to isolate the event by stating that it’s extremely rare for your customers to experience problems with your customer services team. Try using words like “isolated event” and “very rare”, but avoid negatives like “another issue” and “frequent mistakes”.

  1. Use three key messages

These key messages will become the basis of your statement. The following example uses facts to inform stakeholders, distance the firm from the investigation, and reassure both staff and customers.

“This morning, West Mercia Police sent us an official statement informing us that a member of our board has been arrested on suspicion of fraud”.
Key message: we are not in charge of the investigation. Questions about the investigation should be directed to the police.

“Our company has agreed to cooperate fully with the official investigation to provide any and all information that can help to reveal the truth.”
Key message: we support the investigation and want the truth to be revealed.

“To protect our customers, shareholders and staff, the board member has been suspended with immediate effect, and his access rights to company files and systems have been removed.”
Key message: protecting our customers and our staff is our first priority, and we have taken immediate action to do this.

  1. Use verified information and don’t get defensive

It’s natural to want the full facts before you comment publicly on a situation, but sometimes that’s not an option. News and gossip spread like wildfire online, and sometimes it’s necessary to put out a holding statement while a situation is still unfolding. Don’t be tempted to speculate at this stage, it will only bring trouble later on if your information turns out to be wrong. Stick with official, verified facts. A simple, generic statement will let your stakeholders know that you’re aware of the situation and are addressing it, and that you’ll release more information when you have it.

“We understand that a few of our shipments failed to arrive yesterday. We are looking into the causes of this, and will keep you informed of our progress.”

Once you’ve investigated further and can answer the “w” questions – who, what, where, why, when – you can release a comprehensive statement to replace your holding statement.

“On Thursday, July 16th, we learned that several orders of face masks failed to arrive. We investigated and swiftly discovered the cause of the problem – the breakdown of a delivery truck operated by our haulage partners. The delayed items are undamaged, and will be delivered this week. We will contact all affected customers individually to arrange a convenient delivery time.”

And finally…
Hopefully, you won’t need to write many official statements, but if you do, use this post as a guide. If you’re still struggling to find the right words, don’t panic. Wordsmiths offers editing and copywriting services for businesses, and we can help you craft the perfect response to any situation. Our team can take on assignments at short notice, so if you’ve got an urgent problem please get in touch. You can contact us through our social accounts at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Alternatively, email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk, or WhatsApp us at +44 7743 518681.

6 tips for writing your business blog

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Writing a business blog can boost your online presence and become a lucrative marketing tool.

But blogging is just for lifestyle brands and mommy influencers, isn’t it?

Actually, no. When done properly, a business blog can improve your website’s ranking in search results and drive traffic to your company’s website. This gives you the opportunity to advertise your products and services, and engage with your target audience – which will inevitably lead to more sales. In fact, blogging is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand.

That’s great news. But when it comes to blog content, quality matters. You won’t attract new customers by posting random, hastily-written articles. So, if you’re wondering where to begin, we’ve put together 6 tips to help you get started with business blogging.

1. Post consistently

This is important. Don’t post five blog articles one week and nothing for the next few months. Your audience will disengage if you disappear.

Some studies indicate that posting four or more times a week will bring the highest increase in website traffic. That’s a lot of articles, especially if you’re new to writing and you’re trying to run a business. Our advice is this: don’t panic, set a schedule that works for you, and be consistent. That might mean posting weekly, or even monthly. Try keeping a content planner to help you plot out future topics, so you aren’t left wondering what to post about. You can store useful links and make notes in your planner too, to give you a head start when you sit down to write.

Many blogging platforms will also let you schedule posts in advance, so if you have a good writing streak, you can set your posts up to go live at regular intervals ahead of time.

2.  Quality over size

Although longer blog posts tend to rank best in search engines, the key is quality. Your blog posts need to be long enough to explain all the key information you want to share with your readers. And they want material that is interesting, informative, and possibly entertaining. Sometimes that takes 2000 words, sometimes you can do it in less. (Fun fact: shorter articles are often harder to write. There’s an art form to explaining key information clearly, in an engaging way, in less than 500 words.)

Whatever the length, your articles should be clear, detailed, and free of waffle. If you’ve repeated the same information several times, go back and remove the repetition so the article reads better. Ask yourself if you would want to sit and read the post you’ve just written. If the answer is no, chances are your audience won’t want to read it either.

3. Strike the right tone

The tone of voice that you write in affects your business image. Your business blog isn’t a textbook, nor is it a text message to your mate. When you write, you need to strike the correct tone. Aim for friendly, professional, not overly formal, not too informal either. Unless you’re a niche b2b (business-to-business) company, some of your readers may not understand industry jargon. So keep the language simple and clear, and explain any industry-specific terms.

It may help to read your article out loud and imagine that you’re talking to a customer. If it sounds too stuffy, or too colloquial, adjust the tone until you’re happy with it.

4. Use keywords to improve search rankings (but don’t overdo it)

To read your article, people must be able to find it when they use a search engine (such as Google). As a rule, your article needs to appear near the top of the search results on page one; customers won’t trawl through 3 pages of results to find it.

One way to improve your search ranking is to use keywords in the title and body of your blog. Keywords are the words that people type into a search engine to find articles on any given topic, for example “how to grow tomatoes”. Certain keywords will be more popular (and more competitive) than others. So, spend a little time on keyword research to identify the most promising keywords associated with your topic. There are several free keyword research tools available online – try them out and see which one suits you best.

Including keywords in the title of your article helps grab the attention of the search engines, while using questions and action verbs (like plan and solve) attracts readers. Aim for a short, catchy title that captures the meaning of the post, around 6-12 words is usually best.

Remember, your article should be relevant to your industry, but it needs to be relevant to your target audience too. There’s no point writing an article if nobody wants to read it. For instance, people may search “how to grow tomatoes”, so if you sell plant pots your title could be “learn how to grow tomatoes in a patio tub”.

Include keywords in the body of your article too, after all your article should deliver the information that your readers searched for. But don’t overdo it – your words need to flow. The road to hell is paved with articles that are so packed with keywords they are virtually unreadable. In the early days of the internet, search engines were easily fooled by poor-quality articles stuffed with keywords and awarded them high search rankings. Those days are thankfully behind us. The algorithms now reward quality, readability, and relevance. Which brings us to our next point…

  1. Post relevant content

Think about your business, but don’t forget about your target audience. Try and focus on writing articles that will interest them. Keyword searches may help you think of blog topics, but your business itself is a plentiful source of material. Try using your blog to share insights into your company, introduce new products, and promote your business culture. These “behind the scenes” posts allow customers present and future to get to know your business personally. That personal connection will generate customer loyalty, which underpins a successful marketing strategy.

Your customers provide another source of blog content through their queries and frequently asked questions. If one person has asked a particular question, you can be sure that others will be interested in the answer. So, keep a note of customer questions and queries to use in future articles. Answering customer questions through your blog offers numerous benefits. It adds a personal touch, it delivers actionable content for other readers, and most importantly it allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field. This in turn builds a positive reputation for your business and improves customer confidence, which can ultimately convert to increased sales.

Lastly, if you’re stuck for ideas, publish a roundup of recent articles that your target audience would be interested in. Don’t just share the articles though, offer a quick summary of each, and explain how they could benefit your audience. These roundup posts represent a fantastic networking opportunity, as the authors of the articles you share will appreciate the extra exposure, and may even return the favour.

  1. Proofread before you post

Well we would say this, we’re an editing service. But it’s sound advice nevertheless. You could have ground-breaking information, a hot new product, a relatable writing style, and those trending keywords, but the quality of the finish matters. If your article is littered with typos and poor grammar, it makes you and your business look careless and unprofessional.

Automated spelling checks are helpful, but they are no substitute for reading the article through yourself. The most effective proofreading is done with fresh eyes, so leave your article for a few hours, preferably overnight then read it through carefully to catch those last lingering mistakes before you post.

And finally….

Hopefully you’re bursting with ideas for your business blog. However, if you lack the time or confidence to write your own articles, contact Wordsmiths. Our experienced copywriters can provide quality articles tailored to your business needs. Alternatively, if you’ve written your own articles and want to give them a professional polish, ask about our business editing services. More information is available on our website. You can contact us by email, or catch us on social at Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to hear our latest news and offers first.

Online courses – 5 study techniques you need to succeed

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If you want to pass your online courses you need effective study techniques.

Thanks to social distancing measures, more adults than ever are enrolling for distance learning – and it’s not just college students. Ambitious professionals, determined jobseekers, and smart business owners know one thing: online study can help you diversify and gain an edge in the jobs market.

Unfortunately, many people fail to complete their online courses. Not because they lack intelligence, but because they lack the right study techniques. Distance learning requires discipline, the right mindset, and a plan. Without these it’s easy to become overwhelmed. That’s especially true if your study skills are rusty, or you’re trying to balance study with work and childcare.

Giving up is the easy option, but that means wasting opportunities as well as your money – so what can you do?

The good news is this: effective study techniques can be learned. So read on to learn our top 5 study tips that can help you pass your online course with flying colours.

1. Organise your study time

Organisation is the key to effective study, and the first thing you need is a study timetable. Online courses allow you to learn flexibly at a time to suit you, so work out when that is: are you a night owl or a morning person? Once you’ve worked that out, arrange your timetable so you study when you’re most alert, but don’t forget to factor in work and parenting responsibilities. Even if you’re a morning person, you can’t study effectively at 7am with a toddler crawling over you.

2. Your coursework needs structure

Coursework is a key component of many online courses, and well-structured answers are key to getting the highest marks. Write a clear introduction, a thorough analysis, and a conclusion that highlights your key points. Consider your language use too – keep it short and simple. Rambling, disjointed answers are not your friend. When you’re studying online courses, it’s easy to forget that a human has to read your work. Your examiners won’t waste their time wading through overly-complex prose to search for your key points, they’ll just downmark you.

3. Get the right content

Examiners don’t mark your conclusions, they mark your delivery and analysis of the information. Most online courses require you to demonstrate critical thinking – a simple explanation of your ideas won’t be enough. Instead, you’ll need to argue the case for and against your theories, and offer some supporting evidence. Professionals who are taking CPD courses may be required to reflect on a learning experience, and constructive reflection requires a certain technique; it’s not sufficient to state what you did or what you learned. Instead, explain why you took certain actions, what the outcomes were, and how the experience helped you to develop – this will demonstrate your learning.

4. Revision

Online courses often include an exam, and being well prepared for these tests is essential. Try to access past exam papers – studying these will help you to target your revision time effectively. Is there a certain topic that always comes up? Are they multiple choice questions, short questions, or essay-style answers? When you’ve done this, timetable your revision so you allocate enough revision time for each topic.

Exam technique

So it’s the day of your online test, and the fact that you’re taking the exam in your kitchen rather than a school hall doesn’t make it any less stomach-churning. You’ll need the right approach to manage your nerves and perform well. Read through the paper before you begin writing, so you know how many questions you have to answer. That way you’ll avoid spending too much time on one answer and rushing the others.

If your exam requires essay-style answers, take a minute to plan them. It’s important to answer the actual question – churning out reams of irrelevant information will affect your grades. Give structured responses, provide evidence, and demonstrate critical thinking. Lastly, if your exam has flexible start times, take the test at a time that works for you. The more alert and less distracted you are, the better your performance will be. Finally, make time to eat well and rest in the days before your exam – your performance will suffer if you’re running on empty.

Need more support with your online courses?

Our study tips are a good introduction to effective study techniques, but if you need more help, Wordsmiths have you covered. We produced Mastering Study – our downloadable studying techniques manual – with distance learners in mind. The comprehensive course contains 5 PDF workbooks and 23 short tutorial videos. The modules are:

  1. Get Organised: Timetable Tips
  2. Structuring an Essay
  3. Revision Tips
  4. Exam Technique (Humanities: essay writing)
  5. Exam Technique (STEM)

It’s the only study skills programme you’ll ever need.
You can access Mastering Study by clicking on the following link:

https://www.udemy.com/course/universitysuccess

We sometimes offer discounts on our course. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to catch our special offers early.

And remember, our academic editing service is available to all students. So get in touch if you’re concerned that your language and writing skills are dragging your grades down. You can email us at info@wordsmiths.org.uk.

 

Help your business survive the coronavirus outbreak – advice for business owners

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Are you wondering how to help your business survive the coronavirus outbreak? You aren’t alone. The measures put in place to manage the spread of the virus has caused an unprecedented crisis for business owners. For many, the future is uncertain. Unless you produce toilet rolls, face masks, or tinned sardines (the unsung success story of the corona crisis) your custom has probably plummeted. You may even have been forced to close temporarily. If you have mounting bills, staff to pay, and a home to maintain, thinking ahead may seem impossible. But you need to plan ahead. Times are tough now, and the economic aftermath of this crisis will be tougher still.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you aren’t powerless. You can’t wave a magic wand to make this go away, but there are things you can do right now to help your business survive and leave it well-positioned for the future. Here are just some of them.

Check what financial support is available to you.

The UK government have set up various grants and schemes that could help your business. Check the gov.uk website to find out whether you are eligible for financial support.

Pivot.

This isn’t a dance move. Pivoting means adapting your knowledge, skills and equipment to fit a new purpose or market. For example, craft beer company Brewdog are switching to producing hand sanitiser. It’s not easy to move into a new sector, but think outside the box. List your skills, experience and equipment/product, then think of all the people you could help, both now and in the future. Direct your business towards those people. To pivot successfully, you may need to consider further training, so read on.

Train, upskill, learn.

It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending, but extra training is an expense worth considering. If you can upskill and expand your knowledge base, you’ll be able to offer more services and expand into new markets. You could also offer a more comprehensive service to your existing customers, making them more likely to stay onboard. And remember, training doesn’t just enhance your products and services: with the right skill set, you could help your business by promoting and running it more effectively, and even save yourself some cash. For example, you could learn to build and maintain your own website.

Brick and mortar training centres may be closed, there are plenty of excellent courses and programmes online. Check them out before you buy, as their quality and relevance are variable. Basically, don’t buy snake oil. Also, look out for free learning resources, and don’t be afraid to ask your peers to recommend courses that they’ve done.

Get online.

There may be ways you could deliver your products and services electronically. This won’t work for everyone, but think creatively about how technology could help your business. Video conferencing and conference calls can replace face-to-face meetings. They can also be used to deliver tutorials, assessments, exercise classes, talking therapies, and even lead prayer or worship sessions. Equally, you could produce an eBook or online learning package that customers can purchase and use while they’re socially isolating. In these strange times, technology could provide the lifeline that your business needs. So don’t fear it, focus on how it can help you.

Overhaul your website and social channels.

You’re going to have more spare time, so look at your business website. Check your social channels too. Are they cluttered, and full of typos and tired old service descriptions? Do they contain inaccurate prices, outdated information, and old pictures? If the answer is yes, overhaul them, especially your website – it’s your shop window. To help your business, your website should reflect who you are and what you offer. It should appeal to the kind of customers that you want to attract in the future, so have them in mind when you’re planning and writing your content.

Start a business blog (or update your old one).

Contrary to rumours, blogging isn’t dead. Creating original content for your business blog is still a fantastic way to engage customers, build your brand and help your business grow. It’s also a great way to improve your SEO and satisfy Google’s pesky algorithms. If you see business blogging as a chore, try to look at it positively. Think of your blog as a place to show off your expertise, demonstrate your passion, and showcase your products and services. You don’t even need to think of clever topics, it’s more important that your customers learn about what you offer, who you help, and how your product or service can benefit them. You could even throw in some case studies of clients that you’ve helped in the past.

Remember, if your customers can get to know you now, they’ll be more likely to approach you later. Everyone, including your target audience, will be spending a LOT more time online, so keep yourself uppermost in their minds. Which brings us to our next point…

Get active on social media.

Out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Even you’ve closed down for the time being, stay active on your social media channels. Places such as Facebook groups, Instagram and LinkedIn are a great way to remain engaged with your customers. Post regular content to keep the algorithms happy, but do it with engagement and shareability in mind. It doesn’t all have to be business-related. Post a good mix of content, including informative, inspiring, and funny material. People need uplifting content at the moment. You could also comment on and share posts from other local businesses and charities. Which leads us neatly to…

Network with other businesses in your community.

This could be businesses who are local to you, or businesses in your sector. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could network with a nutritionist. After all, your services and online content are likely to have similar target audiences. You could share each other’s content, or even produce guest articles and video training sessions for the other’s social channels.

Equally, supporting your local community puts you in a favourable light, and most importantly, could help those in real need. For example, if you usually deliver food and drink to restaurants, could you help out a local shop or takeaway with food deliveries? That way you’d be supporting a local business and getting supplies to those who cannot leave the house. The people you help today may not be your future customers, but they will be forever grateful, and if their gratitude leads to a word-of-mouth recommendation, even better.

Work on that CV

Inevitably, this crisis will lead to job losses. Our heart goes out to all those who are looking for work in this tough climate. It’s vital that you update your CV, to maximise its appeal to prospective employers. Your CV should be unique, snappy and really showcase your skills, knowledge and experience. It might also help to build a portfolio of your work and get some up to date references, so you have them to hand.

Plan Bs and bucket lists

Sometimes, you need a plan B. It may be that you decide to take time out of the job market and return to full-time study. Now is a great time to start looking at university and college courses. You can do most of your applications online. To increase your chance of success, check out our tips for writing personal statements and completing Master’s degree applications. Many courses offer the option to study online from your home, so look at what’s on offer, and pick up our comprehensive guide to studying successful. Or, if writing a book has always been on your bucket list, now’s your chance. Read our earlier posts for some useful advice on beating writer’s block and improving your writing skills.

And finally…

Try and stay positive. We know things look bleak now, but these tough times won’t last forever. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas about how to help your business. Remember, Wordsmiths offers proofreading, editing, digital copywriting, and translating services. We work with academic papers, CVs, manuscripts, social content and digital content. If we can help you at all, with the tasks above or anything else, please get in touch. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and we are also contactable via email. Our very best wishes to you all.

How to write effectively (and 5 ways figurative language can help)

By | b2b, business advice, editing, Student advice, Writing tips | No Comments

You need to write effectively.

What do we mean by that?

Quite simply, effective writing is successful writing. It helps you achieve your goals. Whether you’re writing your thesis, pitching your first novel, or selling a product, your words need to captivate your reader and keep them engaged to the end. Otherwise, your message will be lost along with your audience. That’s where figurative language comes in. It brings colour to your writing, strengthens your argument, and paints unforgettable images in your reader’s mind. When used correctly, figurative language is memorable, persuasive, and impactful. It is the difference between telling a customer what they need, and persuading them to part with their cash.

For many of us, writing for an audience of some type is an everyday occurrence. Yet many people lack the confidence to use figurative language effectively in their writing. This month we delve into figurative language, defining it, giving examples, and exploring how it can help you to write effectively.

What is figurative language?

Figurative language uses words to create meanings and mental images that are more powerful than mere statements of fact. Figurative language is non-literal, so the words used have a different meaning to their everyday, literal definitions.

What does figurative language do?

It makes a piece of writing more interesting, dramatic, or memorable. It helps the writer to communicate their message as clearly as possible. Think of figurative language as the toolkit that writers use to build imagery – the pictures and sensations that a reader experiences in their mind. These pictures and sensations are the holy grail of effective writing. They tip the balance between stating your argument, and convincing your audience that you’re right. Figurative language achieves these effects in several ways:

  • Creating vivid images
  • Putting new or complex ideas into a familiar, understandable context
  • Giving words pace, musicality and rhythm.

Figurative language types

There are several types of figurative language available to writers – the following types are commonly used by writers to breathe life into their prose.

  • metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies one thing as another.

The agency was a colossus of the marketing industry.

  • simile compares two unalike objects introducing this comparison with connecting words such as “like” or “as”.

His eyes were as black as coal

  • Personification gives human qualities and forms to animals, inanimate objects, and ideas.

The shadows danced in the candlelight.

  • Hyperbole uses exaggeration intentionally to emphasise a point.

I’ve told you a thousand times!

  • Onomatopoeia is when a word or phrase mimics the sound of the object or action it refers to.

Crack of the whip

  • Alliteration layers sound upon the literal meaning of words to create an effect. It uses repeated sounds or letters to create imagery, mood, or emphasis.

The wild wind wailed a maudlin melody.

  • A Pun is a play on words. It uses the homonyms or different meanings of a word to create humour.

The past glared at the future perfect: it was a tense situation.

  • Idioms are non-literal phrases that are commonly used by speakers of the same language. Every language has its own unique idioms. The below phrase is a common English idiom which means that it is raining heavily.

It’s raining cats and dogs.

Using figurative language to write effectively

Knowing your similes from your idioms is all well and good, but it won’t help you pass your assignment or make that sale. You need to put your knowledge into practice. Here are five ways that you can use figurative language to produce high-impact writing that captivates your reader.

 

  1. Use sensory descriptions to immerse your reader

Your reader will be more engaged in your writing if you immerse them in your scenario. In other words, make them feel as though they are actually there with you. To do this, you’ll need to provide sensory descriptions – smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and textures. Figurative language offers a helping hand that makes your sensory descriptions more evocative. The below example uses alliteration and simile to describe the taste of a particular scotch whisky.

Talisker Skye has a smoky sweetness with maritime notes and a spicy edge,

rugged in beauty like a Hebridean island.

– Talisker Distillery, www.malts.com

 

  1. Persuade your audience

Whether you’re proposing a theory or selling a product, you need to persuade your reader that your ideas are right. Obviously, you’ll need to provide evidence to support your claims, but figurative language can make your argument more persuasive. The example below uses a metaphor that compares racism to a disease. Think about how the phrase makes you feel. It creates a feeling of disgust, of something being damaging, harmful and repellent. This emphasises how damaging racism can be, and the importance of eliminating it.

Racism is a disease that must be eradicated.

  1. Create emphasis and impact

Figurative language can be useful when you need to make an impact. It adds an extra layer of intensity to your statement. The sentence below is a commonly-used example of hyperbole that deliberately uses exaggeration to emphasise how hungry the person is. It is more effective than simply saying “I’m hungry”.

I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.

 

  1. Make your material relatable

There’s no doubt that some subjects lack popular appeal. Thankfully, figurative language invokes commonly-shared experiences to make even the driest material relatable. The following quote uses personification to describe the writing and editing process:

The goal of text generation is to throw confused, wide-eyed words on a page; the goal of text revision is to scrub the words clean so that they sound nice and can go out in public.

– Paul J. Silvia

Anyone who has bathed an unruly child can relate to the image that Paul J. Silvia creates. The description perfectly captures the process of writing and editing, even for an audience less familiar with the subject.

 

  1. Add clarity

We know that figurative language can help paint a picture in a reader’s mind, and sometimes that picture can help to add clarity to an idea or description. The example sentence uses a simile to compare the surface of a lake to a mirror, making it explicitly clear that the water is motionless.

The lake was perfectly still and smooth, like a mirror.

 

And finally…

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas about how to use figurative language in your writing. If you’re looking for more in-depth help and advice, contact Wordsmiths by email or WhatsApp. Our editing service can help bring your writing to life, keeping your readers engaged in your message. To find out more about our editing services, check out our website. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get more tips on writing and editing. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to receive our latest news and blog first.

Understanding the editing process (and how to choose the right type of edit)

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There are several stages to the editing process, and they all have one simple goal: to make your written work the very best that it can be. If you’re a writer, or if your company is looking to outsource its editing work to the experts, understanding the different types of edit will help you identify the right editing service for your needs. Unfortunately, understanding the different types of edit is where many people, especially new writers, come unstuck. There are beta readers and document critiques, developmental edits and copyedits, and proofreading – the whole process can be overwhelming.

If that sounds like you, read on.

In this post, we explain the various types of edit to help you better understand the editing process. We hope that you can use this post to decide which editing service you need. 

Document critique

Put simply, a document critique provides a broad, thorough analysis of your work. This is very different to beta reading (where volunteers read through your document and offer feedback). In a document critique, an experienced editor will read through your work and offer specific advice on pacing, narrative, and plot development (fiction); or the soundness of your analysis and argument (nonfiction). This stage informs the developmental edit (see below).

Developmental edit 

Developmental editing is all about the big picture.

Developmental editors examine everything from plot to character development, pacing, structure and dialogue. They also examine the narrative for:

  • Inconsistencies, such as plot holes and continuity errors.
  • Plot development, characterisation, and dialogue (fiction)
  • The strength of your argument or premise (nonfiction)

The process explores how the text communicates the author’s ideas and themes. Ultimately, the developmental edit is the difference between a mediocre self-published novel  and an independent smash hit.

Line edit

While developmental editing is all about the big picture, the line edit focusses on individual words and sentences. In short, it’s a detailed, comprehensive edit that tackles your document line by line. Editors are perfectionists by nature, and most will point out technical errors because they want to improve your writing. However, it’s not the specific purpose of a line edit to fix your grammar, or change humor to humour because your automated spell check was set to American English.

Instead, this stage of the editing process focuses on how you use language to communicate information to your reader. A line editor will cut down on wordiness, tighten your writing style, and review your creative content. Above all, the line edit makes your manuscript more enjoyable to read.

Line editors will check for:

  • Pacing issues
  • The clarity and precision of your meaning
  • Weak transitions
  • Unwieldy run-on sentences and bland language
  • Confusing digressions in your narrative
  • Unnatural phrasing and awkward tonal shifts
  • The overuse of words and sentences
  • Redundant words or information
  • Instances where paragraphs or sections of dialogue require tightening

When it’s done right, line editing will give you the understanding and creative tools needed to become a better writer, as well as improving your document.

Copy Editing

So, what is copy editing, isn’t it just glorified proofreading? Well, no.

The copyeditor’s job involves more than checking your grammar and spelling. They ensure that every element of your story is consistent, cohesive, and complete. The copyediting process checks for mistakes, inconsistencies, and errors in your language use, including your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Although detail-orientated, the copyeditor must remain aware of the overarching themes and arguments of your document. The aim of a copyedit is to address flaws at a very technical level, ensuring that your document is polished for submission or publication.

A copyeditor will:

  • Correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax
  • Ensure consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalisation
  • Highlight ambiguous or factually incorrect statements
  • Monitor and resolve overarching issues with internal consistency, such as discrepancies in character traits. For example, your copyeditor will notice if you describe Napoleon Bonaparte as being tall, then later comment on his short stature (he was actually 5ft 7”)

It’s worth mentioning that copyediting and line editing should only be done after the developmental edit, never at the same time or before. This ensures that your editor isn’t wasting their time (and your money) by editing content that may be deleted during the developmental edit.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process. It happens after the other editing processes are completed. Now is NOT the time to make substantial changes to your work, so put that idea out of your head. The proofread aims to catch any lingering mistakes before your work is submitted, printed, or published. We recommend that this process is done by a professional who is reading your document for the first time. That’s because over-familiarity with the text can lead to ‘typo blindness’.

In the print industry proofreading happens after a copy of your manuscript (known as the “proof”) has been printed. A proofreader will compare the original edited copy to the proof, making sure that there are no omissions or missing pages. They will correct awkward word or page breaks, and may do light editing (such as correcting inconsistent spellings). The proof will be returned for further copyediting if too many errors are found. Many publishers require professional proofreading as a quality assurance measure before they send your manuscript off for mass production.

And finally…

To meet your editing needs, Wordsmiths offers a range of editing services:

  • Paraphrasing – includes a document review, developmental edit, copy edit, and final proofread. With this service we can also provide a line by line rewrite of your document, if required.
  • Editing – includes copy editing, final proofread, and general guidance on how to improve your argument.
  • Proofreading – Provides a thorough proofread, and polishes your document for submission or publication.
  • Final Check – If you’ve previously edited your work but since made some changes, this service will check for typographical errors and last-minute spelling mistakes.

If you still aren’t sure what type of edit you need, contact Wordsmiths. We can review your document and advise you on the best service to meet your needs. To find out more about our editing services, check our website. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to get more tips on writing and editing. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to receive our latest news and blog posts first.

 

New Year's resolutions for your business. A desk with a blank notepad lying on it.

6 New Year’s resolutions for your businesses – and how to stick to them

By | b2b, business advice, editing | No Comments

The new year is an opportunity to make positive changes. That’s why January often brings a surge of gym memberships and diet foods. While it’s great to develop your personal life, shouldn’t you be making New Year’s resolutions for your business too? After all, the end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your business’ progress over the last 12 months. It’s a chance to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and devise a business development plan. So, we’ve listed six of our favourite New Year’s resolutions for business owners, starting with some quick pointers on how to keep them going when the initial enthusiasm wears off.

Making resolutions that stick

Most people struggle to maintain their New Year’s resolutions beyond February, so here are some tried and tested ways to help you stick to your business goals.

Stay accountable

Make your resolutions public. The expectations of others will add momentum to your business goals, making them more likely to succeed. Also, sharing your goals publicly creates shared accountability and encourages shared ideas – this is important if reaching your goals will require a team effort.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this

Every project and every team will go through tough periods, when reaching your goal seems further away than ever. To combat this, regularly remind yourself and your team WHY you are trying to achieve it. Doing so will keep you focussed and motivated.

Base your ideas in reality

Avoid setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic goals. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most successful projects are realised through a succession of manageable goals, which leave you positioned to make larger changes. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Which brings us onto our next point…

Break it down

Your goal may have a lot of complex components. If so, break it down into manageable steps. Set a clear plan with clearly defined stages and milestones, and focus on one step at a time. This will help you track your progress, adapt to any changes, and prevent your team becoming overwhelmed. It also means you can celebrate each milestone along the way, helping to keep everyone’s enthusiasm stoked up.

New Year’s resolutions for businesses 

So, which New Year’s resolutions should you make to enjoy business success in 2020? Here are six of our favourites.

1. Make time for yourself

When you run a business, it’s hard to prioritise yourself. Many small business owners feel overwhelmed by trying to do ALL. OF. THE. THINGS. And, when it comes to a choice between personal time and work, the former always loses out. However, as any mental health professional will tell you, an unhealthy work-life balance will eventually take its toll. If you don’t make time to rest and recharge, your energy levels, productivity, and health will suffer in the long term. Stephen Covey once said, “don’t prioritise your schedule, schedule your priorities”, and that’s what you need to do. Prioritise “you” time by writing it into your schedule. Make YOU the priority, because if you don’t, no one else will.

2. Start a business blog

Anyone who tells you that blogging is dead is lying to you. Creating original content on a business blog remains a fantastic way to engage with consumers, build your brand, and grow your business. Blogging gives businesses the chance to share their expertise and passion, and showcase their products or services. What’s more, all that original content can be broken down and used in social media posts, email campaigns, and marketing material. It’s also a great way to improve your SEO and keep the Google bots happy.

3. Out with the old, in with the new

If something isn’t working, change it. Is there a piece of equipment that’s interfering with your productivity? Replace it. Likewise, if your business lacks a particular skill set, now is the time to address this. That may involve taking on a new employee, or buying in the expertise of an external company. It could even be that the information on your website, social media, or marketing material is tired and out of date, and no longer reflects your key business message. Indeed, many of our newest customers at Wordsmiths are small businesses who want to boost their brand by re-vamping their written content. Whatever you need to change, let 2020 be the year that you stop making do. The financial outlay will be worth every penny when you realise your business goals.

4. Be a community player

There is no better way to build goodwill for your business than giving back to your local community. Even if you run an online business with a far-flung customer base, there will be many organisations in your local community who could benefit from your help and support. That support could take the form of donating your products or expertise, or it may just be a simple matter of giving a little time and supporting fundraising drives. So, find a local group whose mission matters to you, and get stuck in.

5. Communicate more effectively

Through customer service, digital media, and keeping staff informed of new developments, effective communication underpins business success. Conversely, poor communication can undermine consumer confidence and damage your brand’s reputation. Just imagine how your business would be affected if you didn’t reply to customer queries, or had a website full of typos and outdated information. For things to run smoothly, all of your stakeholders – staff, consumers, and suppliers – need to receive the right information at the right time.

6. Delegate more things, more often

As we mentioned earlier, small business owners are often used to doing everything by themselves, but that leads to a negative work-life balance. Delegation – whether internal or outsourcing – is fundamental to restoring this balance. Admittedly, handing the reigns to someone else can be difficult, especially if you’re a micro-manager. But remember, delegation can benefit your business. It gives you the chance to focus on your areas of strength, as well as bringing in fresh ideas from other people. If you’re struggling to decide which tasks to delegate, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which tasks overwhelm you?
  • Are there any tasks that you dread?
  • Could any tasks be done more quickly by someone else?

The answers will give you clear picture of which jobs you should hand over.

And finally…

If your business New Year’s resolutions include outsourcing editing, updating your written digital content, or starting that business blog – contact Wordsmiths. We work with print and digital media, offering everything from a final check for accuracy to a comprehensive rewriting service. If you want to read more from us, follow Wordsmiths on Instagram and Facebook, or subscribe to via email to receive our latest news and blogs first.

how to write concisely. A white desk, with small notlets that read "less is more".

How to write concisely (and say more with fewer words)

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Have you ever wondered how to write concisely? The answer is probably yes – especially if you have assignments with a word limit. However, the benefits of concise writing extend beyond university. For example, writing concisely helps you create more effective business letters, project reports, and emails. Beyond this, making your point clearly and promptly gives your readers easy access to key information. This keeps them engaged. So, read on, and we’ll explain how you can say more with fewer words.

What is concise writing?

The word concise is an adjective. It means giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words”. Or, to be concise, “brief and comprehensive”. In a nutshell, concise writing is the art of conveying your ideas using the fewest possible words.

Why is it important?

Long-winded sentences can be overwhelming and confusing. If your key message is buried in reams of sprawling prose, your readers will become confused and disengaged. Essentially, concise writing is clear writing, and clear writing has two benefits. Firstly, it engages your readers, secondly, it explains your ideas in a way that they can understand. This will make your writing more persuasive, more memorable, and ultimately more successful.

So, how do I write concisely?

Here are a few ways to make your point using fewer words.

3  Eliminate repetitive filler words

Sometimes, writers will use repetitive words to boost their word limit. However, this only serves to make your writing harder to read. Consider the following sentences:

Mother will be home after a period of 10 days.

Mother will return in 10 days.

They both have the same meaning, but the latter is more direct. If you’re stuck for material, research your topic further: there may be some relevant points or arguments that you haven’t included.

2    Be specific – replace phrases with words

It can be tempting to use more complex phrases, especially in academic writing. Yet often, using a single word will make your point more effectively:

The report emphasised the negative economic situation experienced by working families.

The report emphasised poverty amongst working families.

3      Avoid using the passive voice

Using the passive voice (where the object comes before the subject) can make your sentences needlessly unclear. Consider these two examples:

After the family had finished their meal, father paid the bill

Father paid the bill after the meal.

The second sentence has greater clarity. It’s also four words shorter. That may not sound like much, but imagine how easy sticking to your word limit would be if you could remove four words from every sentence!

4.      Remove unnecessary intensifiers and qualifiers

Intensifiers and qualifiers are used with adverbs or adjectives to add meaning to descriptions. However, as the following example shows, sentences can be equally effective without them:

Her conclusions, though bluntly stated, were entirely accurate.

Her conclusions, though bluntly stated, were accurate.

5.    Remove unnecessary “to be” verbs:

Look out for sentences and clauses beginning with “it is”, “this is”, or “there are” – these can often be shortened without altering the meaning:

There is a large crowd which is gathering outside the council building.

A large crowd is gathering outside the council building.

6.   Avoid negative constructions

Writers often use negative constructions in the belief that it makes their writing sound more sophisticated:

His contribution to the campaign was not insignificant.

His contribution to the campaign was significant.

Yet, as we can see, using the positive construction adds clarity to the sentence.

 7.  Re-read and revise your work

When considering how to write concisely, revising your work is vital. So once you’ve finished your first draft, read every sentence carefully to see what you can delete without losing meaning. Every word, sentence, and paragraph should have a purpose – if they don’t, remove them.  Remember, you may find that reading your work aloud makes this process easier.

8.   Think about your argument

As you revise, ask yourself – what is the purpose of your writing? Also, in academic writing, each section of your work should support your argument. So, when you revise the first draft, review each paragraph critically and objectively. If it doesn’t support your argument, remove it. Deleting sections that you’ve worked hard on is tough, but your work will be stronger for it.

9.  Think about your audience

When you write, think about your readers and consider what they need to know. For university assignments, imagine that your audience is composed of educated readers who are not experts on your subject. For example, you won’t need to explain what a literature review is, but you will need to explain the key findings from the literature. Similarly, your CV should include information that will help potential employers to evaluate your application.

And finally…

Hopefully, this post has helped you understand how to write concisely. However, if you’re struggling with your word limit, contact Wordsmiths. Our professional editing service will streamline your written work, giving your message clarity and impact. If you want to see more posts from us, follow Wordsmiths on Instagram and Facebook.  Or, subscribe via email to receive our latest news and blogs first.