Simple Trick Strengthens Your Copy

weblinks.jpgWant to make your copy stronger with one simple “trick”?

Eliminate all the adverbs.

What's an adverb?

It's a word – often ending in the letters “ly” – that modifies a verb (or even adjectives or adverbial phrases). Examples of adverbs: quickly, instantly, amazingly, powerfully.

If you find the above passage puzzling, don't worry about it; just go through your copy and try to eliminate as many of those “ly” words as you can. Here's an example:

“Quickly and easily motivate clients to buy stuff.”

~ becomes ~

“Motivate clients to buy stuff.”

Now you may be tempted to ask: “But Ray, I want them to know it happens quickly and easily!”

No problem. Just be specific.

“Motivate clients to buy stuff starting the minute you install the software, without any extra effort on your part.”

You may need to do a bit of rewriting to make the copy flow without the adverbs, but your language will be stronger and more persuasive for the effort.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • Thanks, Ray. But what about saying “the most convenient…” “the most effective…” and “the fastest”? Is that okay? That’s sort of what my current headline says right now.

  • Avoid Crutch Words

    By avoiding the use of LY adverbs and other crutch words you will force yourself to be more descriptive. Your writing style will morph before your eyes into a much more interesting read.

    Crutch words make writing easier but dull.
    Eliminating them takes work, but it’s vibrant.

    It is so important to avoid these words that they deserve a yellow sticky post-it note on the front of your monitor case.

    Additional crutch words to avoid:
    – AM
    – ARE
    – BE
    – BEEN
    – HAD
    – HAS
    – HAVE
    – IS
    – WAS
    – WERE

  • Alex Cohen

    Except in the headline. Using the word “Easily” is still a good idea, especially if it’s your most important benefit.

    For example, I will be launching an e-product for a niche market next month. It will help professionals in a certain industry get sales leads easier and at less cost.

    Admitedly formulaic, this is the headline I plan to use,

    “How To Easily Get Seller Leads … Cheaper Than Direct Mail and Telemarketing — 100% Guaranteed”


  • Cheryl Antier

    Good points guys…and what about:
    Writing in an active voice, not a passive one? (If you’re not sure how to tell, look for verbs that have been changed into nouns by adding an “ion” to the end, such as “exaggeration” and “decision.” Get them – and your writing – moving again by changing them back to “exaggerates” or “decides.”)

    And then what about varying the structure of your sentences? Mix them up a bit, change things around, add a little spice. Try making one thought or fact subordinate to another…or emphasize casuality or time and sequence. (Use words like “because” “before” or “after” to explain why when and how.)

    And finally, I think one of the most important things you can do, is to write like you’re talking to a real person. (And the best way to do that is to read what you’re writing out loud. If it doesn’t sound right when you say it, change it.)

  • I tried this with an email I was just working on. It did help! Thanks,

  • Thanks for the info. I’d been violating that little rule quite frequently in the begining and I still catch myself occasionally.

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