Ask DN: How to learn copywriting?

over 7 years ago from , Product Designer at car2go

As a designer, it sometimes happens that you have to write a couple of sentences, right? At least if you don't have a proper copywriter. My question is: what's the best/easiest/most efficient way to learn some copywriting basics? Can you recommend any articles or books, anything like that?



  • Jay Tyagi, over 7 years ago
    1. Really know about the stuff you are writing about. Invest a good amount of time into the research.
    2. Copywriting is 50% research, note-taking, brainstorming. 10% the actual writing process. 40% rewriting, editing.
    3. Read good advertising. Follow Adage, Adweek and ad agencies.
    4. Learn from the masters - Ogilvy, Schwab, Halbert, Hopkins. Read time-tested ad books.
    5. Read Cashvertising for instant improvement in your copy.

    If I could only give you one tip from my experience - write for the visual brain. Write visuals, not just words.

    Good luck.

    10 points
    • Thom StoodleyThom Stoodley, over 7 years ago

      Follow ADWEAK too

      1 point
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

      Great points, Jay.

      I'd like to add:

      • Learn to recognise patterns in good/great articles. Ask yourself why they're easy to read, fun or otherwise exceptional.
      • Golden rule with copy for the web: once you're done writing the most concise copy you possibly can write, cut it in half. Then cut it in half again.

      I'd also recommend signing up for a larger blogging network. I occasionally wrote for SBNation's Celticsblog (Vox owned), and they've got a brilliant authors-only blog where they talk about how to write the best material you possibly can, backed up by tons of relevant numbers they've gotten from their many blogs.

      That's just the best place to learn. Same as here on DN: surround yourself with people who are better than you and let your old pal Osmosis do the work.

      1 point
  • Daniel FoscoDaniel Fosco, over 7 years ago

    Can't recommend enough The Elements of Non-Fiction Writing. It brings a reader-centered approach to how you should structure your text and gives you a bunch of tools to do so.

    5 points
  • Bryce HowitsonBryce Howitson, over 7 years ago

    Write more words--lots of them. Write like you speak (like a human). Then write some more. Then read the books everyone mentioned so you have a comparison. Then write more.

    Practice in your emails. Practice in your notebook. Practice in your blog. Practice on Twitter and DN.

    The more time you spend reading and writing directly correlates to your skill at both.

    1 point
  • Joe MacNeil, over 7 years ago

    Running against most of the advice in this thread (egad!) my advice would to be to avoid most of the advertising books and study some of the master prose stylists like Joyce, McCarthy, Toole, etc. Granted, they won't teach you formulaic ways to come up with taglines, product copy, etc. However, they'll inspire the sort of whimsy and wordplay that delights your users/readers, and will help set you apart from all the other copywriters doing things "by the book".

    1 point
  • Oz ChenOz Chen, over 7 years ago

    Copyhackers is a robust resource. Good free content & newsletter, but the paid books (PDFs) are amazing and full of actionable content.

    1 point
  • Pete G.B, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Worth a look and backing: http://copygui.de/

    0 points
  • tim hickstim hicks, over 7 years ago

    I thought "Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little" was pretty good. Gave concrete examples of short but sweet copy and broke down why it was so successful...


    0 points
  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I think the best book is Advertising Concept and Copy by George Felton Amazon Link

    0 points
  • Koen Bok, over 7 years ago


    0 points