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10 tips for writing from David Ogilvy

10 tips that have helped me a ton.

David Ogilvy's famous memo on writing informed an entire generation of writers, and still totally holds up today.

Wes Kennison

By Wes Kennison

1 min read
David Ogilvy, a legendary figure in the world of advertising, left an indelible mark with his timeless memo on writing. In the 10 tips he offers, we see a priority on brevity and clarity. I'm including it here as a reference post for other articles, and to highlight it's impact on my own writing (with the exception of the brevity part, that's still a bit of a climb ­čĄ¬)

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 person] what you want.

Ogilvy's memo on writing remains as relevant today as it was when he first shared it with his colleagues. Especially the bits about reading it out loud, and conversations being the single best way to get things done. 

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