The Write Stuff
June 2013 Volume 9 Issue 6
Tone-Focused Options (Yes, You Can Choose)
Things in the world of writing aren’t always black and white; there’s quite a bit of gray–which allows for personal choice but also can cause confusion. This month, I focus on two issues I discuss with clients at the beginning of my relationship with them, both of which will reflect the tone of their copy.
“We” and “You” or “Company” and “Client”
When you employ a hybrid of first and second person, using pronouns such as “we,” “you” and “your,” you’ve made a choice to write in a way that’s casual and personable. Here’s a good example:
We look forward to serving you to the best of our ability.
Contrast that with employing third person to say the same thing:
The company looks forward to serving clients to the best of its ability.
Neither sentence is wrong, but they have decidedly different tones. The first one speaks more directly to the reader, while the second is a bit more “removed,” focusing on generalities.
To Contract or Not to Contract
I’m a big fan of contractions, but everyone doesn’t share my enthusiasm. Those who are “non-contractors” would have written that first sentence like this:
I am a big fan of contractions, but everyone does not share my enthusiasm.
Is there anything wrong with that sentence? No, but in my opinion, copy is less formal and more friendly when contractions are used–not to mention a bit shorter.
You can’t make an incorrect choice in either of these situations: “we/you” or “company/client” and whether to use contractions. However, since your decision will provide those who read your materials with a glimpse into your company culture, it’s important to make sure the reflection is accurate. Also take care to be consistent; it can be distracting to vary in tone and use contractions just occasionally in the same document.
Do you know businesses that could benefit from my writing or editing expertise, or book authors who need a talented editor? Your referrals will be much appreciated; I’ll treat them like gold and you’ll be considered a superstar for making the introduction.
adriennemoch.com • firstname.lastname@example.org • 619-291-4645