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

The tone of any copy you print or publish speaks volumes about your company. So what's the best voice for your Web site copy, press release or brochure? In other words, how do you want your message to come across, in terms of attitude, and how do you think your target market wants you to speak to them?

Maybe you want your potential customers to know that your company is a hip assortment of idea people and creative thinkers who will bring a sense of urban wit to their work. Or perhaps you're a multi-generational family business whose customers share the same tried-and-true conservative values that you espouse?

Refer to the examples below (and those in Part I) to help differentiate between casual and conservative, hip and snarky, and so much more.

A note about the FAQs category: The Frequently Asked Questions section of your Web site or brochure is a great opportunity to showcase your personality. For example, if you are a fun-loving but get-the-job-done kind of company, then your FAQs should reflect that balance, providing useful to-the-point information, sprinkled with fun, feel-good phrases.

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

TYPE OF COPY: PLAN DESCRIPTIONS

TONE: Conservative

1) from asmallorange.com

Powerful and Secure Hosting Plans

Service designed for high-traffic sites and online business

• Essentials

• Plus

• Premium

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from mailchimp.com

Forever Free Pricing Plan

Loved by more than 225,000 people.

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TYPE OF COPY: FAQS  (see the note above about FAQs)

TONE: Conservative

1) from ping.com

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Get answers.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

A collection of answers, replies and clarifications to our users’ favorite questions. It’s like a quiz, but with the answer sheet.

2) from vimeo.com

I don't know how to make videos. Where do I even start?

You don't need to be a Steven Speilberg to make videos. All you just need is a camera, and a little motivation.  [cont'd …]

3) from wufoo.com

How can I get at the data collected by my form?

In so many sweet ways, my friend. In addition to giving you the ability to design your own awesome reports, you can access your data within the admin interface, have Wufoo email you new entries, subscribe to them as via RSS feed or export them as an Excel document.

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TYPE OF COPY: REPORTS/STATS

TONE: Conservative

1) sample copy (no source)

You have no reports created. Click here to create one.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Accurate, Real-Time Monitoring

2) from wordpress.com

Stats to obsess over

Our stats are designed to give you up-to-the-minute data about your visitors: how many there are, where they’re coming from, which posts are most popular, and which search engine terms are sending visitors to your blog.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Oh no. Buddy! You don’t have any reports! Let’s go make one!

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NOTE: Creating perfect copy isn’t an assembly-line process. Saidandsung will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Missed Part I? Get up to speed.

Spaced Out?

The quickest, easiest way to tighten up your copy is to follow this rule: Only ONE space after periods and colons.

Back in the day, two spaces after end punctuation was the norm; these days, it comes across as anachronistic. Reducing your spaces to one makes the copy look neater, more streamlined. In a small way, it also is a space-saver — you can squeeze more letters on any given line when you only skip one space after each period.

This especially comes in handy when you're writing for a newspaper, a magazine, a brochure or anything with fixed columns, and you are trying to avoid having or solve existing widows (more on widows in a future post).

I've used two spaces in the sample paragraph below to illustrate:

If I had a dollar for every time I reviewed a document with two spaces in between sentences, I'd be a wealthy woman.  Many people are taught this in school.  They never realized that they could only use one space.  One space not only looks more pleasing to the eye, but it also saves a couple letters per line.  That can be extremely helpful to a designer.  Having to kern (reduce the space in between letters) copy is less necessary with more overall space.  As a copy editor with an eye for layout, I've been in the situation many a time when we needed one more letter to make a two-line headline a one-liner.  And skipping just one space makes it that much easier.  One space is now standard practice now.  Venerable publications like The New York Times practice this style.  And so should you.

Let's look at that same paragraph with one space after end punctuation:

If I had a dollar for every time I reviewed a document with two spaces in between sentences, I'd be a wealthy woman. Many people are taught this in school. They never realized that they could only use one space. One space not only looks more pleasing to the eye, but it also saves a couple letters per line. That can be extremely helpful to a designer. Having to kern (reduce the space in between letters) copy is less necessary with more overall space. As a copy editor with an eye for layout, I've been in the situation many a time when we needed one more letter to make a two-line headline a one-liner. And skipping just one space makes it that much easier. One space is now standard practice now. Venerable publications like The New York Times practice this style. And so should you.

The difference is slight (11 lines as compared to 12, because of the widow "you"). This concept especially makes a difference in copy with small columns, as well as large fonts, headlines and subheads.

Got a question or comment? Let me know!

Carla

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