Free Business Words Health Check



You book your car in for its annual MOT, so why not your business words? (Are you sure they’re giving the right impression? Do they reap the desired results? Is your message being compromised by sloppy copy?)

While we can all ‘write’, copywriting involves so much more than simply penning a few well-crafted words. Before she or he writes, a good copywriter will spend a considerable amount of time researching the intended audience. They’ll make sure they understand buyer behaviour and how to craft your message in such a way that it really makes a splash.

Good copywriting can make confusing policies crystal clear. It can keep inter-company communications running smoothly through the careful use of words. And it can effectively ’sell’ a company’s products or services to its customers.

So if you’re not sure your copy is quite right, email me a paragraph (up to 200 words) of your poorly prose and the “Word Doctor” will nurse it back to life. Think of it as a ‘Try Before You Buy’ offer. Then you can decide whether to give me the go-ahead if you have any text that requires editing, copyediting, rewriting, proofreading, indexing or researching.

Don’t have the time or the inclination to write your own copy? I can do it for you. Just follow this link and you’ll soon be on your way to owning copy that gets results.

By Tracey Dooley, Copywriter | Editor | Proofreader

(C) T Dooley, All Rights Reserved

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The Seven-Second Test that Could Boost Profits


seven second test article by

Picture by ‘debaird™’ via Flickr

Copywriting master John Carlton is renowned for obsessing over every single word he writes, especially when it comes to headlines, which are key to any marketing campaign’s success. Is he paranoid about using the wrong word?
No. He’s being smart.
Tracey Dooley explains why, and also how your business can benefit from the same attention to detail…

Continue reading

Does Spelling Matter?


Picture by ‘tdstone’ via flickr

Wotz ron with the English langwage these days? Kwite alot, according to a leading academic expert.

Teaching correct spelling is a waste of time, and the apostrophe should be scrapped, says John Wells, an Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London and president of the Spelling Society. Continue reading

English Corner: Pity the Misunderstood Apostrophe


Picture by Sceptre via Wikipedia

The grammatical cousin of the bored teenager, the apostrophe can be found hanging out in all the wrong places. Or just being plain useless. Worrying or confusing everything that crosses its path.

Take, for example, the following as a case in point:

“Choose from 1000’s of DVD’s…”


“Visit Brighton, for refreshing sea view’s…”

Both are not as innocent as they seem on the surface.

Incorrect use of punctuation — and here, we are specifically referring to the humble apostrophe —can weaken your writing and your message, as well as trip up your reader.

So here are some dos and don’ts in the world of apostrophes:

• And it’s all right, now…

Ah, yes, the king of confusion — ”it’s” is a contraction of “it is”. However, it’s often presented as “its”. This is bad. And should be avoided. Unless, of course, you mean “its” in the possessive sense of the word. For example:

“It’s about time it showed its true colours.”

Here “it’s” means “it is” and “its” (without the apostrophe) indicates that something belongs to “it”.

• Ps and Qs, Dos and Don’ts…

You do NOT need an apostrophe to pluralise. OK, it’s tempting to slip in a quick apostrophe, but that would be mere folly. Apart from the obvious one — “don’ts” — which is correct in this instance.

There is neither a contraction nor a possessiveness connected with numbers, abbreviations or the “dos” in the world.

So the following are correct:

“There are 100s of them out there.”

“You only ever saw two PCs, but that was in the 1970s.”

“The MPs had 1,000s of complaints.”

So remember, only use an apostrophe for a missing letter or, in every other case apart for “its”, when something ‘owns’ something else. (“It’s amazing to think that the project’s deadline was met.”)

Please send me any ‘grammar gaffes’ via the ‘comments’ section here, and I’ll pop them in a future post on this blog.

By Tracey Dooley, Copywriter Creative Consultant


Save yourself embarrassment and costly reprints by getting your documents professionally proofread:

(C) 2007-12 T Dooley, All Rights Reserved

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Beware the Rhetorical Question…


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Have you ever heard of a lazy rhetorical question? I think perhaps we all have.

The primary purpose of rhetorical questioning is to make a certain point, and then to allow the reader to ponder the thought or reasoning rather than providing an answer.

But the chances are that reader will submit an answer — and it may be considerably different to the one you were hoping to elicit.

People often ask empty rhetorical questions. They’re commonly used to hide the fact that a point hasn’t been made. This is, to me, lazy prose and almost forces the audience to do all the hard work.

Do we need more rhetoric? If you really must use rhetorical questions in your advertising and marketing, it’s useful to attempt to answer them somewhere in your copy.

If you can’t, then it makes sense to express the point you’re trying to make in the indicative.

Now, how does that sound to you? 😉

Clear enough, hopefully. If not, let me know…

(C) 2011 T Dooley, All Rights Reserved

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Let the Writer Beware


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I caught Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff earlier on today — not literally, but while I was eating a late breakfast with the TV on. Doh!

The presenter Matthew Wright was asking for views on the coalition’s plans to mark down pupils for poor grammar and spelling, as part of the education reform proposals. As a practising wordsmith who verges on the anal side of being pedantic, my ‘editor-antennae’ had no choice but to automatically switch themselves on.

For once, I wholeheartedly agree with the coalition.  Pupils should get a rap for not being ‘bovard’ to use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. But surely the teachers, past governments and the current ‘mamby-pamby’ teaching system should share some responsibility. Let’s face it, the dismal standard of teaching in our schools during the last few decades has a lot to answer for.

Case in point: it has been reported that most employers are increasingly concerned about the poor standard of literacy among job applicants, the majority of whom don’t seem to be able to correctly construct a simple sentence, let alone consider the implications of a misplaced apostrophe.

Cor blimee, wots the world cum in 2?  😉

The point is, if your copy is going out into the public realm and is to represent either yourself or an organisation, it really shouldn’t be riddled with errors. While the occasional typo needn’t be the end of the earth, inattention to detail and sloppy copy will serve to confuse readers (and annoy them, even).

As one reader referred to as ‘Jaded’ perfectly sums up (in response to an online forum debate regarding the same): “Poor grammar and spelling, whether intentional or not, are like CAPITAL LETTERS. They slow down comprehension. ”

The English language is wonderfully rich and is meant to evolve, but it doesn’t mean that it should be abused as a result of simple ignorance (or even pure disdain). Attention to detail always counts.

“But, really, who cares if people are able to get the general meaning across?” you might argue.

Then caveat scriptor, say I . . . Let the writer beware.

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Are You Easy to Understand?


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Here’s a question I received from reader Latoya Pennant, which, along with my answer, I though you might find helpful:

Question: “How can I write clearly and concisely?”

Answer: I cover this in detail in my TeleClass Better Writing Skills 101 – Write Your Way to Blockbuster Results and BOOST Business to Boot. Basically, it’s about using simple language (not using ‘utilise’ or ‘employ’ when ‘use’ will do, for example), writing short sentences and paragraphs, and sticking to one main point in your communication.

For example, compare this sentence: “High-quality, high-yield learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.”

With this: “Students need good schools if they are to learn properly.”

The latter is much clearer and to the point. As a result, it’s also a LOT easier to understand than the gobbledygook in the first sentence.

Almost anything or anyone can be written about using plain English. That doesn’t mean you have to ‘dumb down’ your writing. Rather, just make sure you really think about the message you wish to impart and keep things simple. Don’t just write words willy-nilly. You have to make every single word count.

Also, make sure you write in logical sentences and paragraphs that can be easily understood. That way, your writing will be much better received … and more effective.

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