How to write to precise character counts – trade secrets!

How to write to precise character counts

Do you need to write a tweet? An ultra-short blurb? An email headline? Fear not! If you only have a limited amount of space in which to get a message across, here are top five tips for making your text short and sweet.

Step 1: get your message down

First of all, be clear in your mind what you want to say, and write it down. Don’t worry about character counts at this stage, and definitely don’t try to make it pretty!

Here’s an example of this in practice, in a tweet about an event:

Limited places are now available on our brand new Social media and other new strategies for optimising the customer experience course on Wednesday October 19 2016 at 09:30 GMT
(176 characters)

It’s too long for a tweet, so it will need a little work.

Step 2: strip out the unnecessary

Think: is every detail you’ve written essential for this communication? If not, just cut it out.

In the tweet example, you would be linking to a webpage containing more detailed information about the event. So you don’t need to include the full event name; just summarise what it’s about. Arguably, the ‘limited availability’ is also not really relevant.

Places are now available on our new social media and optimising the customer experience course on October 19
(108 characters)

This would now be the right length for Twitter. But it could still flow better.

Step 3: use shorter words and phrases

Why say ‘purchase’ when you could just write ‘buy’? ‘Come and visit’ when you could just write ‘see’? When the characters really count, find shorter words and phrases.

Remember: the thesaurus is your friend.

Attend our new social media and optimising the customer experience course on October 19
(85 characters)

Step 4: strip out prepositions and articles

If it’s still too long for the space you have available, try stripping out certain prepositions (of, to, in, for, with and on) and articles (a, an, the).

Attend our new social media and optimising customer experience course, October 19
(79 characters)

Step 5: add a bit of sparkle

You’ve cut, simplified, shortened and stripped your text – so you should be sitting in front of the essence of your message. Now comes the task of crafting it. Does it sound clunky in places? How can you make it more interesting?

  • For example:
  • Think laterally about your message. Is there another, punchier way of getting that message across?
  • Could you ask a question?
  • Use punctuation to keep your text short but help it flow better.
  • Try very short sentences. Like this.

Seeking new ways to transform customer service? Attend our course, October 19
(76 characters)

And there you have it. 100 characters gone!

Do you like the result? Think you could improve on it? Have a go and send it to us!

 


We’ve teamed up with WM Group to provide some fantastic trade secrets from one of the top writing and content companies in the UK.

For over 25 years, WM Communications has been delivering the right messages to the right people, via the right channels. Services include content consultancy, web content, social media, design and print, thought leadership, case study programmes and bid support. View website

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