Monday, July 22, 2013

10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy


(Reblogged from Brain Pickings)

Iconic businessman and original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy. On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write” and found in the 1986 gem The Unpublished David Ogilvy (public library):

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

  1. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
  2. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  3. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  4. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  5. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize,demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  6. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  7. Check your quotations.
  8. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  9. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  10. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  11. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

This, and much more of Ogilvy’s timeless advice, can be found in The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners,

No copyright infringement intended. For educational, non-commercial purposes only.

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