There’s an old adage that resounds in my head every time I hear the clattering of a keyboard anywhere outside of the creative department — “everyone’s a copywriter.” It’s intended to be an inside joke within the realm of advertising, but to me, it’s a subtle reminder for writers across any field. All professionals, more or less, have to write as part of their day-to-day responsibilities. So why do copywriters exist?
Perhaps it’s their innate ability to turn a phrase, or their relentless dedication to the art of persuasion. Regardless of the reason, one thing is for certain: copywriters know the ins and outs of nearly all forms of day-to-day, written communication. And that’s much easier said than done.
Truth be told, writing is an entire discipline that can be surprisingly difficult for the average marketer or business executive to master, especially on top of countless other duties. Still, it is — and will always be — a fundamental, unavoidable skill that just about everyone needs to hone in order to be successful in their role. That’s why I’ve chosen four free tools you can use to ensure your professional writing is clear, compelling and capable of getting your message across effectively.
1. POWER THESAURUS
If you visit the Power Thesaurus website and type in “Power Thesaurus” into the search bar, you’ll receive a comical, yet accurate list of reasons why it’s more helpful than your average thesaurus. This free online platform doesn’t just come in handy when you need a synonym for that word you’ve used one too many times in a memo to your CEO. You can type in entire phrases, expressions and more, and Power Thesaurus will provide a solid list of alternatives you can use to make your writing more intriguing. At last, we can find better alternatives for “best-in-class" and "utilization".
2. THE FREE DICTIONARY: IDIOMS AND PHRASES
Idioms are to the written word what icing and sprinkles are to a cupcake. Without them, you’d be left with a bunch of dull, unimaginative phrases that no one wants to consume. If your goal is to write something that needs to catch someone’s attention — whether it’s an email subject line or a headline for a company e-newsletter — then the Free Dictionary’s Idioms and Phrases tool is for you. The idea is quite simple: you type in a word that is relevant to your message and the platform will provide a list of idioms and phrases that can help you launch into an unforgettable line. We recommend that you don't lift the idiomatic expression word-for-word, rather, take it to the next level and make it ownable to your brand or business objective. Now step aside Don Draper, there’s a new wordsmith in the office.
3. CAPITALIZE MY TITLE
There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting something as simple as capitalization wrong — except when you do it in the most important slide of a major client presentation. If that has happened to you before, don’t feel bad. Capitalization mistakes are as common in presentation decks as commas are at the Oxford University Press. That’s why Capitalize My Title is such an invaluable tool when it comes to writing content that will be displayed in front of an audience.
Using this platform, you can type in a title or line that you’d like to capitalize, and the tool will automatically format the text in the proper style of your choosing. Not only will this make your writing more consistent and easy to read, it will also prevent you from going overboard with capitalization and inadvertently yelling at your boss via email.
Think about the last time you clicked on an email that you weren’t expecting to receive. Why did you open it? Chances are, it’s because of the subject line. When it comes to emails, the subject line is the first —and often last — part of the message your recipient will see, so you’d be wise to make it sing. That’s where ZURB’s TestSubject comes in. This free, online tool allows you to quickly see how your email subject line and preheader text appear on a smartphone or desktop computer, making it easier to adjust your copy for maximum impact.
But, there’s more to it than that. After all, what good is a captivating, well-written email subject line if it gets interrupted right before you get to the good part? ZURB’s TestSubject also gives you a better idea of where your copy is likely to be cut off due to length, so you can avoid potentially unintended (and embarrassing) scenarios. The last thing you want in an email to your supervisor is a word like “assumption” getting shortened prematurely in the subject line.
Writing for business can be a daunting task filled with uncertainty, but these 4 free tools can help you make the most out of your messaging — and be prepared for any challenge that lies ahead.