Basics of copywriting for beginners

What is copyright?

Copywriting is generally described as writing an advertisement or writing sponsored copy to promote a person, business, opinion or idea. It may be written in plain text, as a radio or television advertisement or in a variety of other media. The main goal of writing marketing copy is to persuade the listener or reader to take action, such as to buy a product or service, or to subscribe to a particular point of view for example. Copywriting can also serve to dissuade the reader from a particular belief or action.

According to Wikipedia, “Copywriting can include basic copy, slogans, headlines, direct mail clips, slogans, jingle words, World Wide Web and Internet content, television or radio commercial scripts, press releases, white papers, and other written materials incorporated into media ads.” A copywriter, or the person who writes the ad copy, can contribute ideas for print ads, mail-order catalogs, billboards, commercials, brochures, postcards, online sites, email, letters, and other advertising media.

The art of composing

The art of writing ad copy is based on the assumption that words can change the thinking, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of an audience. If the writings in copy fail to arouse attention, interest, desire, conviction and action, then they have failed in their mission and intentions.

One of the oldest advertising copywriting formulas is AIDA: interest, concern, desire, action. An ad that doesn’t grab the reader’s attention won’t be able to do anything else. Only after attracting attention can advertising arouse consumer interest and create desire for the offered product, service or idea. Finally, the advertisement must stimulate some action on the part of the customer or else it fails in its purpose.

Authoring techniques

Some of the techniques a copywriter can use to write compelling ad copy include:

  • Cliches or buzzwords, such as, now, new, here, finally, and today.
  • Action words, such as buy, try, ask, get, send, taste, see, see, come, and many more.
  • Emotional or exciting words, using adjectives that reinforce facts, such as, wonderful, amazing, exhilarating, beautiful, and wonderful.
  • Alliteration or some form of repetition of sounds that is pleasing to the ear, but not exaggerated, obvious, or annoying, such as, “Let the train bear the pressure,” “Don’t be vague, ask Haig,” and “Go fine, go shell.”
  • Slang or writing to imitate informal speech, such as “choose” and “fish n chips”, and use words, such as, no, won’t, won’t, won’t, what, etc. abbreviations.
  • Punctuation and grammar, such as “Save the Children.” now.’ Write his name in gold. Remy Martin.’
  • Repetition, such as using the same word to open each paragraph or connecting the company name or brand in the text.
  • Intertextuality or the association of a text with other texts or signs, such as the use of the word “lock” to link to security, or the use of a statement, term, or sign from a film or other media.

When writing a print ad headline, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Make the headline a key compelling element of the ad
  • Attract the reader’s self-interest with a basic promise of benefits
  • Enter the maximum amount of information without making it cumbersome or annoying
  • Limit titles to about 5 to 8 words
  • Include the brand name in the title
  • Encourage the reader to read the basic copy
  • Enticing the reader to check out the visual in the ad
  • Don’t change the line in the title
  • Never use a headline whose persuasive effect depends on reading the body copy
  • Use simple, common and familiar words

When writing a Subhead, keep the following in mind:

  • The subtitle should reinforce the title
  • The subtitle should entice the reader to continue to the main copy
  • Subheadings should prompt a more complete reading of the entire ad
  • The longer the body text, the more appropriate it is to use subheadings
  • Keep the use of subheadings to a minimum – they can clutter your ad

When writing body copy, keep the following in mind:

  • Use the present tense whenever possible
  • Use singular verbs and nouns
  • Use active verbs
  • Use familiar words and phrases
  • They differ in the length of sentences and paragraphs
  • Engage the reader
  • Support for the incredible
  • Avoid cliches and superlatives

Common mistakes in writing ads

Some common copywriting mistakes to avoid include:

  • Ambiguity resulting from the generalization of words or imprecise meanings.
  • Words, where economy of words is critical because copy has to fit within limited space and time before the audience gets bored.
  • Vulgarity or inauthenticity, as the use of outdated clichés and superlatives can create a dull and outdated image of a brand or company.
  • Beyond Creativity, where creativity is moved for creativity’s sake. Copy must stay true to its primary responsibility: to communicate the selling message.


Writing good copy takes a lot more than what’s listed in this article. It requires research, outside-the-box thinking, and many other aspects. For more advice on copywriting, check out the many resources available on the web and read related books by professional copywriters.

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