This set of tips was a 1981 memo from ad man
Ogilvy to everyone who worked for his ad agency. It's
become a universally quoted set of tips for writers of all stripes. (Collected
The Unpublished David Ogilvy).
People who think well, write well.
Woolly minded people write woolly
memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
Good writing is not a natural
gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
- Read the
Roman-Raphaelson book on writing [Writing
That Works]. Read it three times.
- Write the way
you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences, and short
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize,
demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo on the day
you write it. Read it aloud the next morning - and then edit it.
- If it
is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send
your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the
recipient to do.
- If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy
what you want.