Grammar Hammer: A Lesson in Writing from David Ogilvy

blog_grammarhammer

“Don’t use 10 words if you can say it in five.” This is one of the most common writing tips I come across while I’m researching grammar rules.

Oddly enough, we were all taught to practice the exact opposite in school.

Remember writing papers that were required to be at least 1,000 words or 10 pages long? Then, after pulling an all-nighter you ended up with 7-1/2 pages and tried triple spacing sentences or finding additional quotes you could throw in there to hit that required page length or word count.

Thankfully in the professional world, less is more.

David Ogilvy, a legend in advertising, sent the below memo to all his employees at Ogilvy & Mather in 1986. Entitled “How to Write,” his tips hold true almost 30 years later. This list is one of many writings in the book, The Unpublished David Ogilvy.

people-who-think-well-write-well

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. 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:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally.  They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

– David

*Writing That Works, by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

Click here for more Grammar Hammer and writing tips.

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire. A version of this blog post originally appeared on Beyond PR

You may also like...

25 Responses

  1. Warren Frost says:

    Great information shared.. really enjoyed reading this post thank you author for sharing this post .. appreciated

  2. Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

  3. Evan Reid says:

    This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.

  4. Rocco Welch says:

    I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  5. Henry Larry says:

    Embracing Ogilvys writing principles is a game changer. Short and simple messages not only save time but also ensure effective communication in any professional setting.
    Metal Arbors Supplier in Avalon NJ

  6. For the reason that the admin of this site is working, no uncertainty very quickly it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.

  7. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for providing these details.

  8. Sylvia Burns says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites

  9. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  10. There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made

  11. very informative articles or reviews at this time.

  12. Kasen Frye says:

    Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  13. I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark site list and will

  14. Cody Hodges says:

    very informative articles or reviews at this time.

  15. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

  16. Jakayla Ali says:

    naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

  17. Jay Goodman says:

    naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

  18. Alec Mayo says:

    I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  19. Great information shared.. really enjoyed reading this post thank you author for sharing this post .. appreciated

  20. Lilly Watts says:

    Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  21. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  22. Andrea Flynn says:

    I am truly thankful to the owner of this web site who has shared this fantastic piece of writing at at this place.

  23. There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you made

  24. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles

  25. Ayanna Bond says:

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am really happy to read everthing at one place

Leave a Reply