Contractions In Business Writing? And Other Marketing “Faux Pas”

Why Breaking Writing Rules Can Grow Your Business

Today I had a client, a professional writer, ask me about having contractions in their brand story document. It sparked thoughts about other technical writing faux pas we regularly use in marketing. (Gasp!) What’s right and what’s wrong? And how do we know it’s okay to break the rules without sounding uneducated?
Here was my response on contractions, ending a sentence in a preposition, starting a sentence with a conjunction and more. Give me your thoughts in the comments!


This one is near and dear to my heart. I was always taught to leave contractions out of the mix for my writing to “be correct.” For many years, I also fought with my younger team over advertising that ends a sentence in a preposition. (This one still makes me cringe, even though they’re right. See the next paragraph.) But…(and never start a sentence with a conjunction) things are changing, even in business writing.

(Imagine a pithy slogan that says, “For What Are You Waiting?” Awkward…)

Best Practice

The best practice of the day is to
a) keep it sounding conversational, and
b) break it up into digestible pieces.
And when I say digestible, I mean, we need to keep marketing pieces below a grade 7 reading level (grade 4 is preferable). (Use the Hemmingway App to check. This post is a grade 6 reading level. Try as I might, I could not get it lower and feel good about the writing.)
Using contractions can make things sound more conversational. Starting sentences with a conjunction can allow us to break complex ideas into digestible pieces. This is especially important visually. The more breaks you allow between ideas on a computer screen or in a marketing piece, the more people can grasp what is being communicated. And even more important in marketing, what you want them to do. (The brain is a funny thing!)

Be Personal

Being personal in marketing produces the best results. As a matter of fact, Think with Google tells us consumers are demanding personal interactions. Keeping your communications conversational is one way to be personal.
So, if contractions break your heart as much as ending a sentence in a preposition does mine, axe them on internal documents.
But be willing to break some rules on your website. I would definitely encourage contractions to make their way into your marketing/nurturing emails. People want to know you see them as an individual. They want you to speak to them personally. Person to person. (Yes, I know that’s a fragment, but you get what I mean.)
If you’re not using contractions, you’re probably wasting money on marketing. But you don’t have to. We can help. Contact us to get personal with your audience, so you can stop wasting money on marketing and start getting results.
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