Just about everything needs text (or copy), whether it is a website, an ad or a greeting card. But creating copy that has the right tone and gets your point across is not always easy. Sometimes you will want your text to be clear and concise, so that the reader understands and receives your point immediately. Other times, you might need in-depth informative copy, like such for product descriptions. Perhaps you want copy to be witty, or to rhyme, or to be full of puns; the first step to good copy is knowing exactly what you want.
Then you need to either write your text yourself, or get someone (link??) to copywrite or you. Cost is always a consideration, but you need to know that what you get is quality copy. There is nothing worse than forking out for some work and then having to proof read the whole text yourself. So you want a native speaker, possibly with a degree or two under their belt, and you want to see examples of copy that they have done before.
Remember that the copy is what will help your SEO (link). Copywriting with the goal of achieving higher rankings in search engines involves the strategic placement and repetition of keywords and keyword phrases, whilst still writing in a manner that is considered ‘normal’. Did you know in this text, ‘copy’ has been mentioned 8 times (excluding this sentence), and ‘text’ has been mentioned 5 times?
1. Know what you want to say
2. Know who you are going to say it to
3. Know how you want to say it (this would largely involve what tone you wish to use)
4. Know how to best leverage what you say i.e. practice good SEO.
At W3, we are chameleon copywriters. This is a made-up term, but it means that we can write whatever you want, whatever way you want. Typically, this is for website content, but ask us and we can see what we can do for you. Our rates are competitive, and you can rest assured that what you get will be quality copy.
Technical writing goes hand-in-hand with copywriting, and tends to overlap. Generally, technical writing aims to be informative primarily. It is used in a variety of technical and occupational fields, including engineering, chemistry, software and hardware, finance and consumer electronics among many others.
There is a definition of technical writing thanks to the Society for Technical Communication. It states that technical writing is any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:
1. Communicating about technical or specialized topics;
2. Providing instructions on how to do anything, regardless of the nature of the task.
3. Communication through technology, that is, web pages, help files and even social media sites.
In essence, the aim of any technical writing is to create a useful document (or documents) that can be used and understood by readers. Thus, good technical writing will explain everything, clarifying jargon, so that the information is useful to the intended audience. Bad writing will add to confusion. Ever read a manual that intends to guide you through set-up of a kids toy? Ever gotten to the end of a myriad of complicated steps, only to be left with one unidentified part, and a toy that doesn’t quite work? That’s bad technical writing, and is often a result of a rough translation by a non-speaker.
Steps for good technical writing
1. As with normal copywriting, with technical writing, you need to know exactly what you are trying to say and who you are trying to say it to. So define your goal, and then define your audience.
2. Following on from this, you need to understand how in-depth the explanations will be. If you are explaining to a scientist how to put a microscope together, you probably don’t need to define the uses for a microscope. Of course if the microscope is actually for a kid in school, you would need to use a completely different approach, carefully outlining each step, naming and defining each part.
3. Next, test your writing. Get people to try and follow the tasks, or read the copy and then explain it back to you in their own words. If it works every time, you have good copy. If not, then it’s back to step 1. Repeat until successful!
Here is an example of one of the first examples of technical writing on how to use an Astrolabe. (Just in case you were wondering…)
W3 can help. We like knowing how everything works, and we love explaining it. Know-it-alls we may be, we are also just good at writing. So just ask, and we can see what we can do!