How to Write by Ogilvy

This was doing the rounds a little bit on Twitter a couple of days ago – I think it was a tweet from Sarah Richards from GDS where I first spotted it.

Reading it I couldn’t help but think that for 8 or 9 of the recommendations on the list memo = blog. I think as a general set of principles for writing it is as good as anything I have read (though I am just starting to read the latest edition of the book Ogilvy recommends) but it almost all rings particularly true of anyone trying to find their way with blogging.

Points 2, 3 and 4 are especially spot on in my opinion.

How to Write


  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.

I’ve done a bit of research of David Ogilvy since coming across this – seems like he is at least partially to blame for a lot of the ills of modern advertising! That said the guy clearly knew how to write.

2 responses to “How to Write by Ogilvy”

%d bloggers like this: