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Every copywriter has their box of go-to tools for speeding up the job: Where can I find a pithy quote? What’s the reading age of my copy? Is this hasty rewrite good enough to count as fresh content?

So here’s our list of copywriting resources. It’s not nearly complete. We’ll add to it whenever we can. If you have some favourite resources to share, tell us and we’ll drop them in (with a credit of course).

Note that there are no books or SEO tools on this page. They’ll come in other posts.



Readability

The lower the reading age, the better. It’s not dumbing down, it’s making life easy for your readers.

  • Measures of readability: Readable provides an excellent run-down of the many, many different scales for calculating readability.
  • Check your text for readability: Readable again – just copy and paste your text to get a result.
  • Check a web page for readability: Often more useful – especially if you want to prove that some existing text (or another copywriter’s work) isn’t fit for purpose.
  • As good as Hemingway?: Just when you think you’ve nailed your copy, the Hemingway App (online or on your desktop) puts you in your place. The best by far of the readability checkers captures your passives, your adverbs, and your long sentences.
    «source: Graeme Piper, DropCapCopy»


Plagiarism

You would never, ever rip someone off, but it would be good to know if someone else has taken a shortcut. And you might legitimately want to reuse one of your own pieces, suitably tweaked, for a bigger PR hit.



Inspiration (or lack of)

Sometimes the best of us need a nudge in the right direction.

  • Headline generator 1: To be honest, this is a rubbish tool. But if you’re desperate for an instant clickbait headline (6 laziest faults of the zombie copywriter), this could be your page.
  • Headline generator 2: Blog Title Generator does much the same thing, but lets you tailor the selection according to the type of content you’re dealing with.
    «source: Graeme Piper, DropCapCopy»
  • Refine your headline: Drop your precious headline into the CoSchedule analyser for an instant evaluation of its clickability – but you do have to sign up.
    «source: Graeme Piper, DropCapCopy»
  • Refine your email subject line: Another CoSchedule analyser, this time for openability. Since these analysers are purely mechanical, you can game them with nonsense text that scores brilliantly.
    «source: Graeme Piper, DropCapCopy»
  • Ideas that worked elsewhere: Swiped is a huge resource of ads that may (or may not) have worked for others. It’s big on long copy and the hard sell, but may offer the germ of an idea for something you’re working on.
  • Find a quote about [topic]: Quoteland lets you search by topic.
  • Find a song with [word] in the lyrics: Looking for a song that mentions your subject? Ranker may well have it listed. In fact Ranker is brilliant for all sorts of oddball lists.
  • Lorem ipsum: What, no inspiration at all? In that case here are 1,300 words of cod Latin for layouts and concepts. Note that lorem ipsum text comes out at 5.8 characters a word. If your words are shorter, you may need to edit your sample to match your writing and to show the extent of any given word count. Save your edited sample for repeat use.


Formulas

A formula is a set sequence of copywriting elements that leads a prospect gently but firmly (much like a bull with a ring in its nose) to the sale. AIDA is the one everyone knows.

  • Understand every copywriting formula ever written: All of them? Who knows – but far too many to count. From AICPBSAWN to PASTOR (and way beyond), Copyhackers has amassed more formulas than the Institute of Mathematics. It’s a heavy-duty read with diamonds in the debris. Somewhere.
    «source: Nigel Graber, Mightier Than»


Research

Great copywriting is supported by facts. You can never have enough of them.

  • Academic papers: Google Scholar is your route to a near-limitless body of research. Don’t expect to be out again before teatime.
  • Statistics: Pew Research Center gathers stats on just about everything.
  • Multiple searches: Ref Desk puts all your online search options on a single page.
  • Websites from the past: Want to know what was on this website 20 years ago? The Wayback Machine drags up everyone’s dirty secrets.


Language and grammar

There’s not much to choose between the online grammar checkers. The free versions tell you almost nothing, and no self-respecting copywriter should be forking out for the premium service. If you’re in a rush to meet a deadline, a free check might just catch something you’d have missed.

  • Check your grammar 1: Grammarly is a hugely popular resource. Sadly the free version isn’t very useful – and should you really be paying for the premium version?
  • Check your grammar 2: The free version from Scribens is the best of the bunch. It also accepts more text than many of the others.
  • Oxford Dictionary online: Even the best of us have to check the occasional word. Other dictionaries are available.
  • Urban Dictionary: Who among us can keep up with street-speak? When a new phrase bounces your way, Urban Dictionary will be there to catch it.


Hearing voices

Turning speech into text and text into speech are time-savers. One cuts hours of transcribing; the other helps weed out awkward phrases. For all types of writing – especially speeches and video scripts – no form of editing beats reading your copy out loud.

  • Automated reading: You can set up Word to read your copy back to you. The voice is a bit robotic, but a robot will only ever read what’s on the page, not what’s in your head. A Chrome extension does the same for G Docs.
    «source: Lorraine Williams, Lighthouse Proofreading»
  • Turn spoken word into text: Otter is a neat tool for recording interviews – for case studies, for example – and automatically transcribing them as text. The free option gives you up to 600 minutes a month.
    «source: James Daniel, James the Copywriter»
  • Be a voice-activated writer: Can’t type? Broken your arm in a unicycling accident? Dragon from Nuance is a life-saver. The programme does far more than transcribe what you say; it lets you control your entire desktop with your voice. You can even train it to spell out invented words or foreign words with awkward diacritics. For writers who’ve spent a lifetime at their keyboard, voice-activated working takes some getting used to.


Tone of voice

Tone of voice is often guesswork, gut feeling, or bland corporate values expressed as a personality.

  • Find your tone of voice: Voicebox is a kit of flashcards and questionnaires that help you and your client zero in on their natural tone of voice. A great way to convince the suits of your professionalism, but it ain’t cheap.


Diacritics and special characters

Copywriters who care about typography expect to get every single character right. If you can tell your ơ (horned-o) from your ø (slashed-o), and your â (a-circumflex) from your ǎ (a-caron), these are the links for you.

  • Cut-and-paste diacritics: Typeit is a delight. Just choose your language and start composing online. Or pick the characters you need for pasting straight into Word.
  • Tables of alt-codes: Rob Locher’s list of diacritics takes a different approach. Run your eye down the tables, and there’s your alt-code.


Images

Yes, this is a page of resources for copywriters. But even we writers have to compromise occasionally, and brighten our posts with an image.

  • Social-media image sizes: Much more than a checklist of sizes, the sproutsocial guide explains how each social-media format treats your pictures.
  • Decent copyright-free images: If you lack pictures of your own, there’s a great choice at Unsplash – all free to use. As a bonus, typing a keyword into a photo library can reveal unexpected images that lead your copy in a different direction.
    «source: Tim Bevin-Nicholls, dciArtform»

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