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David Ogilvy: Ten Tips on Writing Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

David Ogilvy: Ten Tips on Writing

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


How is your New Year’s resolution to read more and write better holding up? After tracing the fascin­ating story of the most influe­ntial writing style guide of all time and absorbing advice on writing from some of modern history’s most celebrated writers, here comes some priceless and pricel­essly uncomp­rom­ising wisdom from a very different kind of cultural legend: iconic busine­ssman and original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy (June 23, 1911–July 21, 1999).

On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write” and found in the 1986 gem The Unpubl­ished David Ogilvy (public library).

Ten Hints

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.

David Ogilvy