Start with clear messaging
Before writing anything, ask yourself:
- Why am I writing this?
- Who’s reading it?
- What messages do I want to communicate and what’s the framing?
- Which behavioral techniques would be most appropriate?
- What’s the call to action?
Write like a human
- Say it simply. Choose words and phrases you’d use when talking to a neighbor and don’t use jargon.
- Write for an 8th-grade reading level. Use contractions and short sentences (12-15 words). Tip: Use Hemingway Editor.
- Be clear, conversational, and focused on action. Follow the Opattern voice.
- Check the owner’s manual before making any changes to your water heater settings.
- This is based on 100 similar homes within approx. 4 miles.
- Finish your energy check-up.
- Refer to the owner’s manual for safety instructions before utilizing your water heater’s advanced settings.
- Approx. 100 occupied, nearby homes (avg. 0.11 mi away).
- Finalize your home diagnosis.
Make it scannable
- Write clear, descriptive headings. Many people only read headings, so use keywords that describe the content.
- Break up long paragraphs. No one likes a wall of text, so break paragraphs into short chunks, and use bullet points whenever it makes sense.
- Use logical groupings. Consider the sequence of information and group related concepts.
Focus on the user
- Emphasize the benefits to the user. Explain why it’s good for them instead of leading with what “we” are trying to do.
- Anticipate questions. Consider what the user needs to know and incorporate that into the main content. Don’t rely on FAQs—if you write with the user in mind, you won’t need them.
- Address the user as "you". If "you" doesn’t work in a given context, use the plural "them, their, they" instead of specifying gender ("him, her"). See: Common words and phrases
- Get user feedback. Work with the research team to gather qualitative feedback, do A/B tests, etc.
- We’ve put together this report to help you:
- Understand your energy use
- Make home improvements
- Save energy and money
- Thanks for being a UtilityCo customer.
- We are pleased to provide this personalized report to you as part of a pilot program. Thank you for being a valued UtilityCo customer.
Once you have a draft, it’s time to trim the fat.
- Read it out loud. If it sounds weird, change it.
- Remove extra words. Take out anything that doesn’t need to be said.
- Be consistent. Follow our style guide.
- Each month, you’ll get an email that shows how you’re using energy compared to your neighbors.
- Each month we will send you an email showing how your electricity use compares to your neighbors to help you understand whether your home uses a large or small amount of electricity.