A Web Copywriting Rule from an Old Classic

By 01/31/2010March 13th, 2014No Comments

A web copywriting rule from an old classic

I just realized that a web copywriting technique I apply to web content comes from an old classic.

Strunk and White to the rescue

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White has been a must-have for any self-respecting writer since it was first published, way back in the middle of the 20th century.

I would maintain that The Elements of Style should be required reading for any web copywriter making a living today in the 21st century.  It’s that relevant.

Rule # 13 simply states: Omit Needless Words.

Web content clean-up

I clean-up two areas of web content more than any other:

  1. “Chit-chat” – what we web copywriters also refer to as “warm-up copy”.  It’s the opening “fluff” talk you often see on home pages or “about us” pages.  It’s introductory text that’s supposed to welcome us to the site and tell us how great it is.  Sometimes it just tells us what we’re about to see in the section we’ve just entered.  When web visitors see “chit chat”, they hear a tiny (or sometimes really loud!) voice in their head saying, “blah blah blah…”
  2. Instructions are the other major source of needless words.  If you go back to yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned the #1 overriding principle of website usability: Make your website self-evident.  If you do that, instructions usually aren’t necessary.  If they are, keep them extremely short and simple.  No one likes reading instructions.

Web copywriting copies real life

My ability as a web copywriter to omit needless words comes in large part from my personality.  I only like spending time with people I really like.  And when I’m with people I really like, I like to get to the point.  I don’t like small talk or mindless “chit-chat”.

Small talk is content-free.  It doesn’t really say anything.  And a lot of people, especially in our fast-paced, over-scheduled world, don’t have time for it.

Your website visitors don’t have time for small talk either.  This one web copywriting rule from an old classic will make your website more effective and profitable.

Omit needless words.  And if you don’t have a copy, buy The Elements of Style.

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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