From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part I

In preparation for a new project, I recently asked a client to clarify the style they were seeking for the text on their Web site, and explained that the tone or voice of the copy can range from conservative to hip to casual to snarky and more. They asked me to explain the differences, and so I created the following guide, which I'll post in two parts.

If you're unsure about how your site or brochure or e-newsletters should read, scan over the examples below to help you pinpoint the correct copy tone for your target demographic, and check out my tips at the end for making your copy less formal.

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Saidandsung.com's At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: Forgot Password

TONE: Conservative

1) from skype.com

Forgotten your password?

Change your password in three easy steps. This helps to keep your new password secure.

Type in the email address you used when you registered with Skype. Then we’ll email a code to this address.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Forgot your password? That’s Okay. Everyone Forgets. Just tell us the email address you used to create your account and we’ll send you a new one!

2) from beezag.com

Word is you forgot your password. No worries — we’ve all been there. Click the link below and we’ll send you a new one your way!

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TYPE OF COPY: Contact Us

TONE: Conservative

1) from capitalone.com

Questions about your account? Log in to send a secure e-mail/message.

2) from asmallorange.com

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms, please feel free to contact us any time by e-mail at info@asowebdesign.com, or by phone at (404)-627-7789.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from apple.com

Have questions about MacBook? Just ask. Call to talk with a knowledgeable Apple specialist.

2) from mailchimp.com

How To Get In Touch

MailChimp's a small, nimble team that supports over 225,000 users

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from zendesk.com

Drop us a line.

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TYPE OF COPY: Join

TONE: Conservative

1) from linkedin.com

Ready to get started? Join now.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from thrillist.com

Get on the list.

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TYPE OF COPY: Login/Logout

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

Don’t have an account?

No worries.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Are you sure you want to logout?

Yes, I need to leave.

No, I want to go back.

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A small sampling of tips to make your copy less formal:

+ Remove formal verbs

before: No download is required.

after: No download required.

+ Utilize half-phrases for short copy (such as subheads)

before: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it …

after: If it ain’t broke …

+ Remove serial commas

before: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms, and social networks

after: connect via e-mail, print, web, sms and social networks

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Stay tuned for more tips and comparisons in Part II of this guide.

And keep in mind that creating perfect copy is hardly an assembly-line process. Saidandsung.com will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Thanks for reading,

Carla