Copywriting clarity AI

Writing for clarity in an AI world

How do you bring technology to life? This a world of AI and apps, bits and bytes, coding and clouds. It’s all too easy to lose the reader in a haze of jargon and buzzwords.

There’s also the danger of lurching too far in the other direction. Technical copy shouldn’t patronize the reader. Nor should it oversimplify.

Get the balance right

Let’s take a look at some of the technical copywriting techniques you can use to grab the reader’s attention and hold on to it.

1. Focus on the end-user. Put yourselves in their shoes. What are their worries, the pressures they face on a daily basis? What can they see on screen, how do they manipulate and work with the information at their disposal?

2. Keep sentence structures as simple as possible: It’s tempting to inject a bit of rhetorical flair into your copy, but make sure you’ve got the basics in place first. It often helps to draft the more technical sections of your articles as short statements, using a simple subject-verb-object structure.

Here’s an example from an introduction to machine learning:

•      There are multiple forms of machine learning.

•      These are called supervised, unsupervised, semi-supervised and reinforcement learning.

•      Each form of machine learning has differing approaches

•      They all follow the same underlying process and theory. 

Now, combine these statements into a single paragraph. You can run sentences together to keep the copy flowing:

There are multiple forms of Machine Learning: supervised, unsupervised, semi-supervised and reinforcement learning. Each form of Machine Learning has differing approaches, but they all follow the same underlying process and theory. 

Shorter statements also give the copy room to breathe and open the door to more creative and accurate writing. Look at the final statement and how it combines grammatical clarity with precise vocabulary and argument.

3. Illustrations: A schematic, chart or infographic can do a lot of the heavy lifting in a complex document. If you can’t reuse them in published article, use illustrations to organise your thinking as you write. Anything you can do to help the reader visualise an abstract idea will be valuable.

4. Use white space: Give text room to breathe. Use short paragraphs, especially for mobile content. Break up blocks of text with short headings. Include bullet points to organise lists or a sequence of actions.

5. Quotations: A great way of bringing abstract copy to life, quotations give your copy an authentic voice. Wherever possible use these statements to convey emotion. This approach is helpful with press releases and case studies, but it can also make social media posts stand out.

6. Appeal to basic emotions: What feelings should the article evoke? Fear, joy, relief, or wonder? Weave these into the article. It doesn’t matter if it’s a case study, a brochure or a video interview. Make sure that the reader or viewer can ‘feel’ the story through the actors in your narrative.

7. Think of the end-user as the hero in an epic adventure: Imagine how the tech helps them overcome their obstacles and battle their way to success. Frodo had his sword, Sting. Arthur had Excalibur. Use any technique you can to add suspense, action, humour and fear. If that sounds crazy, it is a lot easier to tone down over-dramatic content than it is to make dull copy exciting.

8. Guide the reader with verbal signposts: These are elements of copy that steer the reader’s journey. Examples include section headings, headlines and sub-heads. These punchy statements can also be used in body copy. For example a short sentence at the start of a paragraph that gives a hint of what’s to follow. 

Bonus tip: Don’t forget the basics. Keep verbs active, vary sentence length and strictly ration the number of adverbs and adjectives.

Follow these rules and the article will easier for the reader to understand – and more enjoyable for you to write.

Photo by Stephen Kraakmo on Unsplash

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