10 Writing Tips from David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy is the late founder of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, who was dubbed in his New York Times obituary as "the father of soft sell in advertising."
His work — which included famous taglines such as "Only Dove is one-quarter moisturizing cream," "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock," and "The man in the Hathaway shirt" — is still an inspiration to advertising executives today.
He also wrote the book "Confessions of an Advertising Man," which contains invaluable advice on how advertisers can perfect their craft.
But there are also countless tips that serve for business people outside the advertising industry too.
On Sunday, Ogilvy & Mather shared Ogilvy's useful 10 tips on "How to Write" on its LinkedIn page. Most Mad Men practically have this list engraved in their minds, but for those who have yet to see this often-shared piece, here are some really useful tips on how to write well:
It's a little hard to read, so we've copied out the tips too:
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 the hallmark 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 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.