Writing Crystal Clear Copy: Copywriting Basics for Beginners | Ruth Clowes | Skillshare

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Writing Crystal Clear Copy: Copywriting Basics for Beginners

teacher avatar Ruth Clowes, Professional Copywriter

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Know Your Reader

    • 3. Short, Sharp Sentences

    • 4. The Active Voice

    • 5. Trash the Adverbs

    • 6. You and I

    • 7. Find the Right Words

    • 8. Don't Nominalise

    • 9. Be Direct

    • 10. Polish Your Copy

    • 11. Tips, Tricks and Tools

    • 12. Next Steps

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About This Class

If you want to write clear, persuasive copy but struggle to communicate your message plainly, this class is for you.

Learn how to ditch the drivel, wave goodbye to waffle and polish your copy until it’s crystal clear. As a professional copywriter and marketer, words are my bread, my butter and my passion. In this super-practical copywriting workshop, I’ll teach you 10 simple and effective ways to transform your copy from boring to brilliant.

No sound needed! Give your headphones a break and enjoy accurate captions and fully visual walkthroughs.

In this class you’ll learn:

  • The simple principles behind clear, concise copy
  • How to clean up and clarify messy, imprecise text
  • The power of the active voice and how to use it
  • Practical tools and techniques to improve any piece of writing.

By the end of this class, you’ll have the skills and know-how to polish up a short piece of your own copy so that it’s crystal clear.

This class is for you if:

  • You lack confidence or experience when writing English
  • You’re new to writing persuasively or want a refresher
  • You need simple and effective techniques for improving existing copy.


Plain English Campaign - http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/
Oxford Dictionaries - https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/
Hemingway - http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
Counting Characters - http://www.countingcharacters.com/

Connect with me: Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook

Meet Your Teacher

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Ruth Clowes

Professional Copywriter


Your website text, online bios, social media posts and emails define you. They are what make people notice you, connect with you and buy from you… or not.

Learn to communicate more clearly, dynamically and persuasively with classes that focus on straightforward, practical techniques that get great results – fast.

Each session is full of real-life examples and hands-on exercises to help you practice as you learn.

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1. Introduction: Welcome! Hello, my name is Ruth. Welcome to my class on writing crystal clear copy. This class is full of tips and techniques from my career as a professional copywriter. I'll be teaching you how to improve your writing and get your message across clearly and persuasively. You'll then use your new skills to improve a piece of your own copy and make it crystal clear. The techniques I'm going to show you are very simple, but they're also very powerful, and I know that you're going to be astonished at how much you can improve your own writing, just by using the skills that you will learn during this class. This workshop is aimed at students who want to improve their basic copywriting skills. You don't need any prior experience or knowledge. You just need an appetite to improve your writing. You'll find this class particularly useful if you want to improve your writing, but you struggle with concepts like using the first and third person or using the active and passive voice. Many people find these terms confusing, but don't worry. That's why I'm here. I'm going to talk you through them using completely practical examples so that you can see exactly how they work and how you can apply them to your own copy. The skills you'll learn in this class are going be useful for all of the writing you do, but they're particularly helpful if you do a lot of online writing, so, if you write blogs or social media posts or copy for websites. That's where brevity and clarity are especially important in writing. So if you write those kinds of things, you'll find this class particularly useful. Writing clearly and persuasively is easy when you understand the active and passive voice, the power of direct commands and how to use the first and third person, and when you understand things like nominalisations and adverbs: what they are and how and why you should avoid them. I'm going to take you through these principles of good, clear writing and show you how to put them into action quickly and effectively. And the best thing? As you start using these skills for yourself you'll quickly find that they become second nature and everything that you write will be clearer and more persuasive as a result. So, shall we get started? 2. Know Your Reader: Know Your Reader. As a writer, there are a few things you need to consider before you even put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. It's impossible to write clearly and effectively if you're unsure who you're writing for or what the purpose of your writing is. That might sound pretty obvious, but it's amazing how many people start writing something like a web page or a social media post without a clear idea in their mind of who it is they're writing for and why. So for each piece of copy that you write, before you start writing, ask yourself: Who am I writing this for? (Who is my reader?) Why are they reading it? (What's their motivation? What do they want to achieve?) And finally: How can I help them? (What is it that I'm offering that's going to help them achieve their objective?) You might find it helpful to visualise an actual person who is going to be reading your copy. So, for example, if you're writing the About page of a website, you might imagine a potential customer who's reading that and how they might be feeling and what they might do next. This is a technique that I use and I find it incredibly useful. I know that some copywriters even have photographs of people in front of them when they're working to keep their mind fully focused on the end user: the reader. At this point, I'd like to introduce you to the Clarify Your Copy worksheet. You can download this from the Resources section of the Class Project tab. You'll use it to complete your project for this class, and I'm going to work through an example project during the class so that you can see it in action. For your project, I'd like you to choose a piece of copy that you've written and you'd like to improve. It should be about between 50 and 200 words. Your social media bio or the About page of your website would be ideal for this. For my example, I'm going to use some website copy sent to me by my client, Lois. Lois owns a local flower shop called The Flower Yard. She sent me some draft text for the About page of her website, and I'm going to edit it so it's as clear as possible using the same techniques I'll be teaching you in this class. Now, Lois has done her homework well. She's identified her readers as existing and potential customers of her flower shop. She knows they're motivated by their need for professional flowers and flower arrangements, and that she can help them achieve that by selling them a range of beautiful value-for-money flowers. With all that in mind, the content of her About page text is looking good overall. She talks a little bit about the history of her business and her own experience. Then she gives an overview of the services The Flower Yard offers and what makes them unique. She then goes on to talk about the company's customer service ethos, and she ends on a call to action. There's just one thing that's not right here in terms of content, and that's this sentence about Lois's puppetry business. That's nothing to do with her flower shop, and it's information that just isn't relevant to the readers of this page. So the first thing we're going to do to improve this copy is get rid of that irrelevant sentence. Now, that might seem like a really obvious error to you, but it's amazing how often people include irrelevant information just like this in their own copy. That's why it's so important that you answer the three questions of: Who, Why and How to focus your copy on what's relevant. And it all starts with knowing your reader. So now that we've got the basic content of our piece of writing correct, let's work through the clear copy principles to make the copy itself as clear and concise as possible. 3. Short, Sharp Sentences: Short, Sharp Sentences. Long, rambling sentences are a feature of bad writing. They're difficult to read, and they're confusing for the reader. You should aim to have an average sentence length of about 15 to 20 words. That doesn't mean that all of your sentences have to be the same length. In fact, it's a good idea to vary the length of them. It makes the writing more interesting, but you should really get rid of any sentence that's longer than around 30 words. That's generally going to be too long. The good news is that long sentences are relatively easy to spot and eliminate. One good way of spotting if a sentence is too long, is what I call the 'take a breath' test. If you read your copy out loud and you find that you're running out of breath at any point, that's a sure-fire sign that a few full stops wouldn't go amiss. Another warning sign is if, when you read your copy, you see a lot of connecting words, so words like 'and' and 'but', or if you see a lot of commas. Finally, most word processing programs will count your words for you. So if you can see a sentence and you're wondering if it's too long, you can highlight it, and it will show you the word count somewhere on the screen. So you've found those long sentences. Now how do you go about shortening them? Well, let's take a look at that copy from The Flower Yard as an example. I'm going to try reading this first sentence out loud. Feel free to join in. "The Flower Yard is a flower shop in Leicester, conveniently located in the city's vibrant and colourful cultural quarter that was established in 2014 by local florist and entrepreneur, Lois Spiers, who had her education at the Institute of Professional Floristry and already had over a decade of experience in the trade." Phew. That sentence is definitely too long. Not only am I running out of breath saying it, but I'm also getting confused. For example, was it The Flower Shop or the Cultural Quarter that was established in 2014? It's not clear. Let's add some full stops at natural points between ideas. And now let's amend the words at the beginnings of our new sentences so that they make sense. That's better. If we read it through again, it's already much clearer. If we carry on reading through the text, we get to this sentence, and alarm bells start ringing, because we've got a lot of connecting words. We've got 'so', 'and', and 'and' again. Let's try getting rid of that middle 'and' and replacing it with a full stop, and we'll just adjust the start of the sentence so it makes sense. That was easy, and that passage is now much easier to read. The one way of finding long sentences we haven't tried yet is using the word count function in Microsoft Word. So let's give that a go on this final paragraph. If I highlight the words up to the first full stop, it tells me at the bottom here that it has 10 words in it. That's fine - well below our maximum 30 word threshold. This next one is 13. And the next one 20. They're all OK. But then we get to this sentence, which is far too long at 51 words. Let's break that sentence up and tweak the beginnings of our new sentences like we did before. So, we've used three methods to spot over-long sentences: reading out loud, looking out for connecting words and checking using the word count on our computer. Our sentences are now all below 30 words. Time to move on to the next clear copy principle. 4. The Active Voice: The Active Voice. Using the active voice makes your writing more direct and impactful. The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. It follows a simple Subject, Verb, Object format. Using the passive voice, on the other hand, makes for murky, roundabout sentences, and over-use of the passive voice is another one of those sure-fire signs of unprofessional writing. With the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Now, don't worry if you're not 100% sure of the whole subject, verb, object thing. It's going to become really clear as soon as I show you a few examples. Here are some sentences written first in the passive voice, then in the active voice. With the passive voice, the doer comes after the thing that was done. Another way to spot the passive voice is to look out for forms of 'to be' followed by a past participle. So to recap, to identify the passive voice, look at what happened and look at who was responsible for doing it. If the person or thing responsible for doing the action is either not there or turns up in the sentence after the thing that happened, and/or, if you see a past participle straight after a form of 'to be', it's the passive voice. So in the first example, it's the company that won the award, but the company comes after the award in the sentence. There's also the past participle of 'to be' in the form of "was won by". So that's the passive voice. Now, what's wrong with it? Well, you can see straight away that the active version comes across as much more natural and straightforward. On the other hand, the passive examples are more bureaucratic and long winded. Writing more complex sentences using the passive voice can also become really confusing for the reader. Luckily, once you've identified the passive voice, it's really easy to fix. I've highlighted where the passive voice has been used in the example text. Now it's just a case of working through each sentence and reworking it so that the doer is at the start of the sentence, then the action, then the thing being done. This sentence is in the passive voice. The doer is Lois, and she comes after the verb "established". To change it into the active voice, I'm going to swap it around so that we have Lois establishing the business. Can you spot the next one? It's this sentence here. I'm going to swap it around in the same way. Notice how the words themselves change only a little. It's mainly just the order they're in that changes. There are two sentences in this last paragraph that are written in the passive voice. Think about how you'd change them. You'll be able to see how I fix them when we revisit the text in the next lesson. Before we finish with the passive voice, I do want to add in a disclaimer... because the passive voice isn't always bad. There are times it can be quite useful. One of these is if the doer of a particular thing is unimportant. For example, if you wanted to say that a book had been published, the book itself might be the most important thing in the sentence and the name of the publisher unimportant. So you might say "the book was published" instead of "Oxford Press published the book", for example. Similarly, if you don't know who the doer is, you can avoid mentioning them completely by using the passive voice. Finally, it could be helpful to have the occasional sentence in the passive voice to break up text and stop it from getting too monotonous. So don't think that the passive voice always equals bad writing. It's just a handy general rule to stick to the active voice whenever you can. On average, aim to make 80% to 90% of your sentences active. 5. Trash the Adverbs: Trash the Adverbs! So what is an adverb? And what have I got against them anyway? Well, an adverb is a word that modifies an adjective or a verb. It tells you how someone does something. They're not always bad news. But if you struggle to keep your writing clear and concise, then chopping out a few of those adverbs is probably going to be really helpful and is going to improve your writing. So, let's go on a little adverb cull of our own. There are a few different types of adverbs, but the type that it's most important to check and consider deleting are easily identified. That's because they almost always end in the letters 'LY'. I've highlighted all of the 'LY' adverbs in Lois's text. Have a look at them. Remember what I said about an adverb modifying the word after it to tell you how something was done? Do you agree that these adverbs are weakening the phrases they're part of and making them vaguer and more long-winded? Let's go through them and see if they really need to be there. First, we have the word "conveniently" to describe the location of the shop. I don't think this is needed. We've told our readers where the shop is, they can decide for themselves whether or not it's convenient for them. Let's delete it. In this paragraph, we have the words "enthusiastically" and "proudly" to describe the way The Flower Yard works. Again, I don't think these words add anything or tell us anything new. I think The Flower Yard communicates their enthusiasm and pride effectively and subtly, without having to overtly tell people that they are those things. So, for the sake of clarity, I'm going to delete those too. Now we have this phrase "continuously tries". This is a good example of where we can strengthen the original verb, in this case "tries", and in doing so, make the adverb that comes before it unnecessary. So, what's a stronger word for "tries"? How about "strives"? And with that nice, strong verb in place, we can get rid of the adverb without losing any meaning. Getting rid of those adverbs was easy, and it's made our writing feel much more direct and professional. With the next principle, it's time to get personal. 6. You and I: You and I. Your words will be read by human beings, not by machines or organisations or demographic groups. Now that sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it? But how often have you read a form or a letter or a bit of web copy that it sounds like it's been written by a robot for another robot? I've read plenty, and one of the things that can make your writing stilted and overly formal and dull and robotic, is if you overuse the third person. When you write from a third person perspective, you write as though both you and your reader are removed from the events that you're describing. You write as though you're an entity separate to yourself and your reader is an entity separate from themselves. Now that's pretty weird when you think about it. Imagine if I was sat here saying "Ruth wants her student to stop writing in the third person." No. I want YOU to stop writing in the third person, and you're going to do it by learning how to identify when you're doing it, and then killing it with three very simple words: "You", "We" and "I". Take a look at these examples... The sentences on the left are written in the third person. They talk about people and things as if they were remote from both the writer and the reader. Compare them with the sentences on the right. They speak directly from the writer to the reader. They're warmer and feel more direct and personal. Let's take a look at how this works in practice, using The Flower Yard's copy as an example. Because, as you'll see, you can't just ditch the third person completely. You need to use it carefully to keep your writing clear. At the moment the entire text is written in the third person. It makes sense in this first paragraph. We're introducing The Flower Yard very broadly. We want to make sure that people know what we're talking about. But it gets very tedious later on, when we see this constant repetition of "The Flower Yard this" and "The Flower Yard that". What we need to do is switch at some point to the first person "we". And there's a clever trick we can employ to do just that without confusing people. Look at the start of this first sentence: "The Flower Yard creates..." Let's rephrase that so that it reads "At The Flower Yard, we create..." Now that we've announced that shift in perspective, we can use "we" in the place of "The Flower Yard" throughout the rest of the text. The only other thing we need to bear in mind is that "The Flower Yard" is singular, whereas "we" is plural. So we need to make sure we tweak the other words in the sentences to reflect that. So, for example, "it utilises" with an 'S' on the end, becomes "we utilise" without the 'S'. Now, I'm going to fast forward through the next bit as I update all of those third person "The Flower Yard" to first person "we". That's already made a big difference. Now, remember at the beginning of this class when we identified our reader? In this case, we know that the readers of our copy will be customers and potential customers. So, instead of referring to "customers" as if they were somewhere and someone else, we should use "you" whenever we refer to them. One final thing for us to consider is how Lois refers to herself in this copy. Things can get a little confusing if you use "I" and "we" in the same piece of text. That's why I'm not suggesting that we do a similar transition to the first person "I", from the third person "Lois" in this first paragraph. There are ways around this. So, one would be to have a separate boxed-off biography section where Lois could talk more directly to her readers using the first person. Another would be to have a quote from Lois with her name underneath or "Lois said", and then her words as a direct quote. As it is, for simplicity's sake, I think we're best leaving this section alone in this case. However, if "we" isn't getting in the way, so, if you're writing from your own point of view, or on your own personal blog, or you're writing your social media bio for example, I strongly suggest using the first person "I" throughout. I hope you'll agree that this one simple rule has had a dramatically positive effect on our copy, and the next one is going to help us even more. 7. Find the Right Words: Find the Right Words. If you only take one thing away from my class, I'd like it to be to always write with your reader in mind. It's something that I go on about a lot. It's the golden rule for good writing, and it will improve your writing no end if you just keep that one simple principle in mind. And it's something that applies to the words that you use when you're writing as well and the kind of language that you use. Every career or industry or hobby has its own specialist language, its own jargon, and if you're writing for other people within that specialist group, it's fine to use that kind of language, because they're going to understand exactly what you're talking about, so that's appropriate. But one mistake that a lot of people make is, when they're writing for a broader audience, they continue using that insider industry jargon, and it's not appropriate because that reader - the general public - isn't going to understand it. And if we look again at that copy from The Flower Yard, we can see that this is a mistake that Lois has made on her About page. Do you know what a boutonniere is? How about an ikebana? I have no idea, and I bet very few people outside the floristry business know either. Lois has forgotten her reader here and is using industry jargon when she's writing for the general public. I'm going to replace those words with some more everyday ones. So that's my first tip on using the right words: avoid industry-specific jargon. And if you are writing about something you know very well, and you're not sure if a word or a phrase is jargon or not, the best way to find out is to ask someone who's unfamiliar with whatever it is you're writing about. I'm pretty sure that if Lois had asked any non-florist if they knew what to boutonniere was, they would have told her they didn't. It's not just jargon words that you need to eliminate from your writing. Language tip number two is: don't use complicated words when there's a simpler alternative that means the same thing. Here are some examples to show you the kind of thing I mean. You might think that using a fancy-sounding word makes you seem like a better writer. But I'm afraid the opposite is true. Dressing up standard business writing with fussy words is like dressing up a pig in a pair of frilly pink knickers. It's not big, it's not clever, and it confuses people. Let's swap these silly formal words that Lois has used for some much simpler ones. "Utilise" becomes "use". "Assured" becomes "sure", "purchase" becomes "buy", "exigent" becomes "urgent", "require" becomes "need" and "affable" becomes "friendly". That's a lot better. Let's move on to the next principle. 8. Don't Nominalise: Don't Nominalise. A nominalisation is a noun that isn't a physical object. It might be a process or a technique or an emotion, and it's formed from a verb. Now, this is one of those occasions where seeing a few examples is going to be much more useful to you than hearing me explain it. So let's take a look. See what I mean? The words in the left-hand column are nouns - they're static things. The words in the right-hand column are verbs - they're active 'doing' words. Nominalisations often end in either 'ION' or 'ENT'. Nominalisations are very common and very useful. In fact, the English language would be lost without them, so there's nothing wrong with them when they are used sparingly. However, too many of them in a piece of writing can make it sound academic, stilted and dull. Often things can be livened up by rephrasing the sentence so that you replace the nominalisation with the original verb. Here are a few examples. See how the sentences that use the original verb are easier to read, clearer and more vibrant than the ones that use the nominalisation? Let's look at Lois's text - I've highlighted the nominalisations. This phrase "Lois had her education" is already quite clumsy. We could improve it and replace the nominalisation with the verb by saying "Lois was educated", but I think we can improve it even more by using a synonym and saying "Lois trained". That's much clearer and simpler. I'm going to jump forward to this sentence with the nominalisation "discussion" in it. What if we use the verb instead of the nominalisation and say "It's why we take the time to discuss what you need in detail"? That's better. But the word "discuss" is still a bit fussy. How about we replace it with "talk through" - that sounds more informal and friendlier. The other nominalisations in the text I'm going to leave alone. They're not hindering the clarity, and there's no straightforward way of replacing them with their original verb. And that's nominalisations in a nutshell. Limit your use of them, but there's no need to get rid of them completely. Well, our copy is getting clearer and more concise all the time. We've just got a few more steps to go to make it crystal clear. Let's not waste any time, because our next principle is all about being direct and to the point. 9. Be Direct: Be Direct. Nobody wants to come across as rude or curt or abrupt. That's why we often slow our copy down with a lot of fussy, polite 'filler' words that don't need to be there and that just end up clogging up our copy, when actually we'd be better off getting to the point. The politest thing we can do from our reader's point of view is get our message across as quickly and succinctly as we can, rather than wasting their time. That's rude. So write confidently and don't be afraid to give direct instructions. Let's look at a few examples. I'm sure you recognise a few of these from official letters and forms you've been sent. Isn't it better when people get to the point and say exactly what they mean? It's especially important in situations like these when you're asking someone to do something, and a good example of that is a call to action. I'm sure you know that you should have one clear call to action at the end of each web page. If we look at Lois's copy, we can see that there is a call to action, she wants people to visit her services page, but it's wrapped up in this polite, fussy language. It's not necessary, and it's also not expected in web copy in particular. Let's clear it up by getting rid of the unneeded words. There's another way that unnecessary extra words can get in the way of your message. That's when you say the same thing twice. So you make your point. Then, just to be on the safe side, you say it again in a slightly different way. Now people do this in conversation all the time and it doesn't matter too much. But when you do it in your copy, you risk your reader getting bored and going off to do something else before they even get to your all-important call to action. Lois has been guilty of this in a couple of places, but only on a small scale. She hasn't repeated phrases, but she has used more than one word that means the same thing. If we pick either "vibrant" or "colourful", this sentence will be quicker to read and clearer. And the same goes for "taste", "inclination" and "preference". They all mean more-or-less the same thing. Let's make life easier for our readers by picking just one of those words and deleting the others. Just as using more complicated words where simple ones will do doesn't make you look clever, neither does using more words that mean the same thing. It just makes your writing fussy, long-winded and tedious to read. Isn't our writing looking better? There's just one small but important step left before we're ready to publish it. 10. Polish Your Copy: Polish Your Copy. Nobody likes a smug grammar pedant. If you're getting your message across clearly, the old little typo or grammatical faux pas is not going to ruin your writing. However, nothing interferes with clarity like a confusing or funny typo. And there's nothing worse than suddenly realising that a piece of copy that's been on your website or your social media bio for months and months has an embarrassing typo in it. So let's look at how we can avoid that. Well, what you shouldn't do is rely on your computer's spellcheck, because often a word IS in the dictionary. But it's NOT the word that you meant - and your computer's spellcheck isn't going to pick that up. So you need to try a little bit harder than that. The answer is all about proper proofreading. So here are my top three tips for proofreading your copy, Check the spelling of proper nouns, that's the names of people, businesses and addresses, particularly carefully. These won't be picked up by a spellchecker either, so you need to double check them yourself. Print it out. There's something about reading your words on paper that makes errors jump out of the page at you. And finally, ask a friend to read it. Having a fresh pair of eyes on your copy is invaluable. I've done a careful check of The Flower Yard's About page copy, and I've spotted three errors that would never have been picked up by a spellchecker. Firstly, I've looked up this organisation, the Institute of Professional Floristry, just by doing a quick Google search and finding their website. And it turns out that it's NOT the Institute of Professional Floristry at all, but the Institute of Professional FLORISTS. That's a really easy mistake to make. But getting the name of your professional membership body incorrect on your website, has the potential to make you look very unprofessional, so it's good that we've spotted it, and we did so just by paying a bit of extra attention to proper nouns to make sure they were correct. You can probably see the problem with the other two highlighted words. "Male" and "flora" are both valid words, but they're incorrect in this context. "Male" should be spelled M.A.I.L. and "flora" needs an 'L' on the end. These are the most common kinds of errors you'll find when proofreading. And they can be found and corrected with the three step plan I told you about earlier. Check proper nouns, print it out and ask a friend to read it for you. Now, our copy isn't 100% perfect, but it's a huge improvement on what we started with. In less than 10 simple steps, we've taken a piece of text from unclear, confusing and rambling to clear and concise. And using the same straightforward process, you can transform your own copy. We'll finish by looking at some free online resources and tools that will help you even further on your quest for crystal clear copy. 11. Tips, Tricks and Tools: Tips, Tricks and Tools. In this class, you've learned how to improve your copy and get your message across clearly and persuasively. I hope what you've learned has given you the confidence to spot those warning signs of bad writing and to correct them. But sometimes we all need a little help. So, I've put together a list of free online resources that you can use as you're practicing the skills you've learned in this class. You can find them all in the Resources section of the class Project tab. And these are tools that I use myself in my career as a professional copywriter. I use them every day, so I'm sure you're going find them useful as well. The Plain English Campaign is the ultimate guardian of clear, concise language. Since 1979 it's been campaigning against gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information. It's helped many government departments and other official organisations with their documents, reports and publications. And they can also help you. Their website has downloadable guides on everything from how to write in plain English, to A-Zs of financial terms and legal phrases. There are tips for how to write a bibliography or a form and special guidance on writing letters and emails. There's also a selection of grammar guides that explain complex grammatical terms in a simple, easy to understand way. To sum up - this is definitely a website you need in your bookmarks bar. And here's another - the website of the Oxford English Dictionary. This is my 'go to' dictionary when I need to check the spelling of something, but it's much more than that. There's also a comprehensive thesaurus and grammar guide, and if you're interested in word origins or geeky word facts, their blog is well worth a read too. Next up. And this is the big one. Meet Hemingway. This is the number one big daddy of copyrighting tools, and it's completely free. If you copy and paste your text into Hemingway, it will check it for common writing errors. The aim is to make your copy as bold and clear as possible. You can see the things it checks for on the right-hand side, and some of them are going to look very familiar. So we've got adverbs, passive voice and simple word alternatives. Hemingway also flags up when sentences are hard to read, something that can usually be remedied by breaking the sentence up into shorter ones. If you only remember two things from this class, make it these: Always write with your reader in mind, and use this website to tidy up your writing in double-quick time. Finally, an honourable mention to Counting Characters. This handy little website counts the characters and words in a piece of text. There's also a tool that checks the number of characters on a web page, and there's even a Chrome web app that you can download. Handily, there's also a section that tells you the maximum word count for the most popular social media channels. I find it very useful to have all of that information in the same place. You can find links to all these resources on the class About page. Now that you've got all the tips, tricks and tools you need to perfect your writing, it's time to look at the next steps and how to get started on your class project. 12. Next Steps: Next Steps... Thank you for watching my class on writing crystal clear copy. Now you understand what the active voice is, how to use the first person and the power of direct commands. You also know all about nominalisations and adverbs. What they are, and why you should avoid them. The techniques that I've shown you are really simple but they're also very powerful, so I'm really excited to see how you're going to use them to improve your own writing. So now it's time to start your class project. You're going to be using the skills that you've learned in this class to improve a piece of your own copy. Start by downloading the Clarify Your Copy worksheet from the class Project tab. Choose a piece of copy that you've written and would like to improve. It should be between 50 and 200 words. Your social media bio or the About page of your website would be ideal. Copy and paste your text into the 'Before' and 'After' sections of the worksheet, then work through the clear copy principles to find and destroy the causes of unclear, fussy copy. Amend the 'After' version of your copy as you go along. Your writing will become clearer with every step. If you get stuck, share your worksheet with me and the Skillshare community and we'll help you work things out. Your new copy doesn't have to be 100% perfect, but you should see a huge improvement in comparison with what you wrote before. Remember to upload your worksheet to the class project page when you're done, so that other people can see the difference you've made to your copy. If you use the writing online, you could also upload a screenshot of it. I'd love to hear your feedback about this class, and I would also love to hear the positive feedback that YOU get on your new crystal clear copy. Keep practicing the skills you've learned today, and you'll find they soon become second nature, and all of your writing will be vastly improved as a result. Thank you again for watching my class. Enjoy the rest of your day.