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The difference between writing and copywriting


I get a big kick out of writing. I write in several blogs, from Phoenix history to gardening. And my style (if you can call it that) is copywriting.

No, I'm not a professional writer, nor have I ever been one. As a Graphic Designer, my job has been to take photos, drawings, and writing, and put them all together, for brochures, for ads, for the web. So I've seen a LOT of copywriting in my day.

Copywriting is a term used by advertising people and newspaper people for writing that's not quite as polished as regular writing. You know, polished like the writing that your English teacher insisted on? Your English teacher would absolutely hate the casual breeziness of copywriting, and instead insist on certain rules like, uh, well, I don't know those rules. I just know that I would get my knuckles rapped if I turned in something like this. Oh yeah, in case anyone asks you (and I doubt they will) the word copy in copywriting simply means that the words are meant to be copied - you know, like in newspapers or ads. That is, they're worth copying. It must be cool to see your words copied in the thousands after writing something one day, and opening up the newspaper the next day.

Anyway, this is copywriting, which works well on the web. Copywriting is supposed to sound as if someone were talking to you, like an eyewitness to a news event (Oh, the humanity!), or a recommendation for a new car (how about those white wall tires?). So I like the feel of copywriting.

Magazines fall in between real writing and copywriting. Some articles are written with strict rules of writing, some aren't. And the ads are always written in copywriting style. Can you image how turned off customers would be if an ad said, "Ask not for whom the white wall tires toll?" (unless of course they were being goofy). And being slightly goofy and cheerful is what makes advertising copy (yes, that's what writing is called in the ad world) so appealing to read. And make no mistake, people read ads.

So there ya go, copywriting!