Copywriting clue: A little alliteration goes a long way.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love alliteration when it’s used skillfully and judiciously.  But when it’s overdone, it can be downright annoying.

Today I happened upon a website that overused alliteration in an attempt to be cute and catchy with phrases like, “Promote your company with postcards that pop.” Page after page of that made me cringe. (Or do I lack a sense of humor?)

In his gem of a book On Writing Well, William Zinsser reminds us that people may read with their eyes, but they actually hear your words in their mind’s ear.

So, yes, you want your copy to sing, but not off-key.

Zinsser quotes E.B. White, whose Elements of Style should be on everyone’s bookshelf. White tried to rearrange the words in Thomas Paine’s famous statement, “These are the times that try men’s souls”:

Times like these try men’s souls.
These are trying times for men’s souls.
How trying it is to live in these times!
Soulwise, these are trying times.

Clearly, Paine got it right.

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