WRITTEN BY

Helping the world's leading brands
communicate smarter
.
Learn more

218857 david ogilvy abdabb large 1469110486

How to Write

10 tips on writing by David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy was dubbed in his obituary as "the father of soft sell in advertising". He founded and managed the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. His work is still an inspiration to advertising executives today. An example?

At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.

In 1982, Ogilvy sent a short memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write”.

It started like this:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

218849 how to write david ogilvy 03 e055da large 1469110344

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

218848 how to write david ogilvy 04 80413d large 1469110344

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

218845 how to write david ogilvy 05 9ebdff large 1469110343

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

218855 how to write david ogilvy 06 704e08 large 1469110346

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

218852 how to write david ogilvy 07 618a1d large 1469110346

5. Check your quotations.

218851 how to write david ogilvy 08 8e2962 large 1469110346

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

218853 how to write david ogilvy 09 adcbe6 large 1469110346

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

218854 how to write david ogilvy 10 614294 large 1469110346

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

218856 how to write david ogilvy 11 7f4aee large 1469110348

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

218850 how to write david ogilvy 12 83b1e0 large 1469110346

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

Do PR in half the time

We started this company to scratch our own itch, as publishers. It’s now grown to a full PR toolkit with killer features we couldn’t dream of. It makes everyone’s work shorter, easier, and hell, better.

Patrick de laive

Patrick de Laive
Co-founder, The Next Web

Learn more