Timeless Good Writing Tips From an OG Mad Man

By: Graziela | 23 Apr 2015

David Ogilvy was a French salesman, cook, advertising exec, copywriter, diplomatist and farmer (1911-1999). Today, he is widely known as the “Father of Advertising” who has left behind a legacy of meticulous research and knowledge about human behavior – from consumerism to nationalism, emphasizing research methods and adherence to reality. His books on writing may not apply to the Internet entirely…but I did find his internal company memo, ‘How to Write’ to be quite useful. Especially tip #10 for non-profit organizations I work with that are interested in fundraising and action.

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

  • Write a comment