Tips of the Trade

After 20+ years in communications, I find it gratifying to share my expertise.
I hope you find these brief nuggets on editorial and design topics helpful in your work.


Maureen Glasoe, Principal

Less Is More


Most of us these days have the attention span of a gnat. To ensure your copy gets read — and remembered —
keep it short.


Try these techniques:


  • Use shorter words and phrases. Try before instead of prior to, use instead of utilize, whether instead of whether or not.

  • Weave in one-line paragraphs. They have more impact and break up longer blocks of text.

  • Trim unnecessary words. Rather than “In this document, we discuss a plan which includes two ways to reach our target market,” say “This proposal presents two key ways to reach our target market.” What can you eliminate without changing the intent of your message?


Of course, some writing requires a more expansive, longer-form approach. But in business and marketing communications, you’ll get more mileage from active, tightly written copy.


Avoid Acronym Overload




An association wouldn’t be an association without its acronyms. These handy little bundles of letters are used for conferences. For educational resources. For software. And, of course, for organizations themselves.


But if overused, acronyms can create confusion and affect readability. Unless your audience is highly familiar with an acronym, think twice before using it, especially if it will appear only once in your copy.


When you do employ an acronym, spell out the full name or term in the first reference, then use the acronym in subsequent references. For extra clarity in longer, non-marketing copy, include the acronym in parentheses after the initial, spelled-out reference.

Harness the Power of “You”


Never underestimate the power of speaking directly to your audience. That means weaving more “you” language into your copy. For example:


  • “You can use the database to search a range of topics” vs. “Professionals can use the database to search a range of topics”

  • “You can save 10% by purchasing your groceries online” vs. “Customers can save 10% by purchasing their groceries online”


Readers respond more positively when a message is addressed to them. That’s why personalizing direct mail with recipients’ names produces better results than generic salutations. Research shows it works.


Review your copy. Does it talk directly to your audience?