Another Trick for Better Writing

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Proper Grammar isn't THAT critical in marketing copy, but... Readability is.

By now you know that following instructions from your high school English teacher will cause you to write dry, dull, uninspiring copy. Being "too proper" just makes your words sound stiff.

At the same time, being too casual makes you sound a little demented. And I HAVE seen it done. In fact, I've received emails with a subject line that went something like: "YO! Man! You Gotta Dig This!"

Uh - no, I don't gotta.getting ready to write

Many of us here have written about using the wrong word. Like saying "reigns" when you mean "reins" and "there" when you mean "their." 

But there's another common error that I'm seeing more and more lately.


It's the over-use or mis-use of commas.

I tend to over-use commas myself when I think it sounds right. My more grammatical friends tell me you don't need the last comma when you write something like "Web pages, newsletters, postcards, and ezines." But I happen to think it sounds right, so I do it.

But now I'm seeing blog posts with commas that really mess up the flow.

Look how difficult it is to read this:

By now you know, that following instructions, from your high school English teacher, will cause you to write dry, dull, uninspiring copy.

This one is SO easy to avoid. Here's the trick:

After you write a sentence or a paragraph, read it out loud. Pause at every comma. If it sounds like normal conversation - great. If it sounds choppy or clunky or halting  (as if you were really not sure about what you wanted to say) get rid of a few commas.


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Andrea Lueth
The Real Estate Experts - Sugar Land, TX
REALTOR - Sugar Land Texas Homes for Sale

Thanks for the quick lesson in grammar. It totally helps to read what you write out loud. Your service looks interesting, I am going to subscribe :)

Jan 12, 2012 06:31 PM #1
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Andrea - Reading out loud is one of the standard "tricks" in copywriting. It helps the writer see if what they wrote flows well.

Jan 12, 2012 06:39 PM #2
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Back in the "olden days," when I as in elementary school, we were taught to include the last comma before the "and."  Then it seemed that fell out of fashion, so I am actually happy to see it making a comeback.  Or would that be a "comma-back?"  ;-)

Jan 12, 2012 10:58 PM #3
Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker
Janisch & Co. - Conroe, TX
Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you!

That's a great suggestion!  Now if we can just get the folks to use the right form of words for their context.

Jan 12, 2012 11:38 PM #4
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Great advice, Marte.  I agree.  I think using too many or too few can be really annoying.  But, I do think the grammatical errors annoy me just a bit more.

Jan 12, 2012 11:44 PM #5
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Susan - I don't really know which is "proper," so I go with what sounds good to me.

Jeanne - It sometimes amazes me that people have so much trouble with word usage. but then I think of how many people are speaking English as a second language and how difficult it must be. Also, where I went to high school kids could say "Me and him was late because we had a flat tire" and no one would correct them.

As for getting words like their/their, your/you're, hear/here, meet/meat, etc. mixed up - it can only get worse with kids growing up texting instead of writing.

Debbie - Which ones head your list? The ones that annoy me the most are: "Please call myself or Joe" and "Me and Joe will be glad to answer your questions."

Jan 13, 2012 03:05 AM #6
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, this is the hardest part of writing, because writing was NOT my strong subject!      Please tell me when you see blatant errrors please, or the mis-use of commas!

Jan 13, 2012 08:48 AM #7
Michael S. Bolton
Michael S. Bolton,Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
MN Appraiser

Great advice Marte! Were you a teacher in a former life. You have a great way of making a point-Thanks! Have a great weekend!

Jan 13, 2012 10:52 AM #8
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Joan - Some people like to write and others have other talents. If I see something that needs to be fixed, I'll let you know - off the post!

Michael - Thanks. The answer to your question is yes and no. I have a degree in secondary education, but the only teaching I've done (aside from studen teaching) was to home school my kids through the elementary grades.

Jan 13, 2012 11:56 AM #9
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