10 commandments for killer copy

Killer Copy RulesWhen you’re thinking of blogging for business, first you have to come up with outstanding content. Once you’ve done that, you need to serve it up in a way that will keep your readers engaged to the end of your post, page or article.

This is the information age. You are vying for readers’ most precious commodity—time. These 10 writing and editing commandments will help keep website visitors on-page, ensure your content will be read and reduce your bounce rate.

This is the information age and you are vying for people’s most precious commodity—time. Click To Tweet

1.   Create a headline that draws your reader in

According to Copyblogger, 80% of readers will read your headline but only 20% read your body copy. So if you don’t capture people with your headline, you’ve already lost the battle. It’s worthwhile to spend time learning how to create great headlines too.

2.   Write the way that people read

People read online differently than they do in print for at least two reasons:

  • Reading online is harder on your eyes than reading print
  • Readers are looking for information

To keep people reading/scanning, you need to create copy that is scannable. Short sentences, short paragraphs, and bulleted and numbered lists. Use italics for key points in your body text.

3.   Use callouts for key concepts or information

Callout help people find what they are looking for. Callouts are chunks of text that stands next to the body with key ideas or information). You can use a sidebar or your blockquote to create callouts. Some Themes even come with callouts built into them.

4.   Cut out grandiose language

When editing for your final version, use the simplest verb in a sentence. For example, don’t write “utilize” when you can write “use.” Once you’ve written your post, try testing it with the Readability Test Tool to see whether you have written a post that is where your readers are at.

5.   Keep your sentences short and simple

Complicated sentence structure is challenging in print. Online, it can be enough to put readers off completely. By short sentences, I mean: One thought per sentence. No convoluted phrasing. No multiple clauses.

6.   Keep paragraphs short

Do not create a sea of paragraph copy. No more than 2-3 sentences per paragraph. One sentence paragraphs are completely acceptable online. Take a look at digital media site—many write entire news stories in one-sentence paragraphs.

7.   Use bulleted and numbered lists

Whenever you have a list in narrative, switch it to a list! You should use bulleted or numbered lists because:

  1. You are helping your readers take in your points
  2. A bulleted list helps readers to scan more easily
  3. Lists give more white space and makes reading less dense

8.   Make use of sub-headings (h2s, h3s) throughout your page or post

Your h2s and h3s are usually a different font face and size from your body copy. By inserting h2s and h3s throughout your copy, you give visual variation to your readers—making it easier to scan.

9.   Guide your readers through your copy

Not only do h2s and h3s (sub-headings) offer visual variation, they can also offer ‘clues’ to what is coming next in your content. Word your sub-headings in a way that helps readers know what you will write about in following paragraphs.

10.  Link to other great content

Provide links from other great content so that your readers get a more in-depth treatment of your topic than you can provide in a post. Make sure you also add a related posts plugin—that way you show more of your inter-related content.


Remember, this is the information age. Your readers are giving you their most precious commodity—time. Using these writing and editing tactics creates a win-win for you and your reader. You share your content, expertise and knowledge and they benefit from it.

Do you have a crucial technique (commandment) that you always follow when writing and editing web content that I haven’t mentioned here? If so, make sure you leave it in the comments below and help us all improve.

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