PLEASE, STOP WITH THE SHOUTY COPY!!
Did you quit your job, follow your dreams, sell your car and read everything about business building on the Google just to be SHOUTED AT? Heck, no! Shouty Copy isn’t good for anyone. It’s hurting my eyes, and frankly, it’s making you look bad.
Let’s get clear on what I mean by Shouty Copy.
Shouty Copy: noun
Shouty Copy is the excessive use of capitals, exclamation marks, or creating a visual glut of funky fonts that feel like you’re being a yelly-pants to your reader. If you’re using just one of these elements too much, you’re making your copy harder to read, and casting long shadowy doubts on your credibility, and SHOUTING AT YOUR READER. Eg: “The copy was so shouty I couldn’t look at it long enough to see what they were selling.”
So please, please, PLEASE stop. Just stop. Here’s why:
CUT THE CAPS AND REDUCE YOUR !!!!!!!!!! USE
No one likes being shouted at. Most people know it’s bad netiquette to write in caps BECAUSE IT INDICATES SOMEONE IS SHOUTING. When combined with selling, Shouty Copy has the ‘SALE! SALE! SALE!’ feel to it of late night infomercials. People actually hate it. We’re force-fed so much content, the minute you start to ‘raise your voice’ in your copy then – boom – the reader either switches off, or clicks elsewhere.
Too many caps makes copy harder to read. Ever seen a big military parade? The soldiers look so neat in their uniforms, but they are legion. You need to double-take to distinguish male from female a lot of the time, even as they march right past you.
This is similar to your reader’s experience when you over-use capitals. It’s harder work for our brains to decode. Our brains love the little lines, curves and dangly bits of lower-case letters. Literally, those little guys help haul your messaging up into your reader’s working, short-term and (hopefully) long-term memory.
Use lower case for your text body to make your message memorable and save your LOUD COPY for your headers.
What about fornicating fonts?
Gosh, that was fun just writing it.
I’ve got nothing about fancy fonts, in fact I find myself strongly attracted to them. There’s a geek’s glut of fonts available to use, it’s easy for designers or writers to get excited and just want to use them all. Just because they’re so cool. Or classy. Or fun. Without a doubt, there’s something for everyone (I have an absurd Oprah-esque image of someone shouting, “And YOU get a font! And YOU get a font!”).
But steady on there. There’s no need to reduce your copy to enable a bunch of attention-stealing, fornicating fonts. An orgy of fonts, if you like.
Orgies might seem like a great idea in certain times and places – especially in theory. In practice they can turn out to be crowded, sweaty things. There’s so much going on you’re not sure which part to pay attention to. I’m going to leave that image there. Uncomfortable and confusing, isn’t it?
So is your reader’s experience when you or your designer indulge in orgy-style use of fancy fonts.
Convention carries your message
You’re brave and uncommon – it’s what I like about you. But let’s not take unnecessary risks and cause font faff-ups and other effronteries. Austere and reliable; fun and flirty; wholesome and hippy; your font needs to help tell your brand’s story, so there’s a solid case to be made for fluffing around with fonts. Just remember, never ever sacrifice ease of reading for the most beautiful font. If your copy’s not easy to read, no one’s reading it.
If there’s one area where I’d urge you to stay safe and not flout convention just because you can, it’s in your fonts. Sure, the fancy fonts might be fun and exotic at first, but when you have a body of text, people will soon get sick of the hard work required to keep riding the rapids. The reason conventional fonts are – well, conventional – is because they facilitate a smooth, easy ride for your reader’s eyes. When that happens, your message is more likely to have a smooth, easy ride to your reader’s mind. And you need that to happen. So ease up on the font faffery, and stick with the tried and the true: they may not be as exotic, but you can trust them to carry your message and not steal the spotlight.
Don’t break the rules just because you can; sometimes it pays to honour convention.
We’ve been through the pitfalls Shouty Copy: Overusing exclamations, capitals, and the visual effrontery of fancy fonts. I’m no expert in design or fontography – if it’s not a word, I’ll make it a word – but if you follow my steps you’ve a much better chance of creating fresh, crisp copy. And why wouldn’t you? Great copy does all the work for you.
We love a bit of Takeaway. Here’s some for you:
- Cut the Caps: Capitals are for proper nouns and headings. Restrained, judicious, and very occasional use in body of text for emphasis
- Reduce Your Use: Exclamation marks are like wasabi: a little bit grabs your attention, too much burns your nasal hairs out
- Forgo the Font Fornication-fest: Fancy fonts overwhelm your reader and detract from your message
- Honour Convention: If in doubt, stick with conventional, easy to read fonts and keep your reader reading and remembering
That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But words aren’t everyone’s thing. Do you need some help with yours? From DIY copy, to bespoke done for you copy, why not ask me? Creating good, crisp copy is very much in my field of expertise; I’ve won awards and have testimonials for days. I’ll tell you what you need to know and give you fresh, delicious words your clients will love so much they’ll be back for seconds.
Stay crisp good folks.
I MEAN IT!
I have favourites. And they're varied and diverse and interesting, just like people generally are. But included in this list is a handful of the people I just adore reading. I like them, I like their stuff, I like the way they word-wrangle. So, I thought it would be...
If I know anything about life, it's that it'll throw you curveballs just for fun. However, learning to catch is never a waste of time. In fact, when COVID-19 hit I, like many other people living with chronic illnesses and disability, felt altogether terrified but also...
The mighty Call To Action (I’ll be calling it the CTA from hereon in) is one of the most important elements of your copy. Truly! In fact, CTAs should be used across all your communication. Yep, all of it. (Seriously, try it on your kids.) A CTA is a sentence, phrase,...
Make your reader lick the screen