Here’s a handy test if you think your copy might be too flowery or convoluted. Can you imagine a stoic elderly Yorkshireman reading it aloud and it still sounding natural?

Back of an old Yorkshireman's head wearing a flat cap

Photo by Ruth Flickr

My client suggested this test after reading some of my more ambitious copy – a biographic description of their premises in Leeds. They’re based in a restored Victorian chapel, now converted into office space peppered with original period features. During my research for the copywriting, I’d perhaps absorbed a little too much inspiration which resulted in some flowery language and extended ecclesiastical metaphors.

Here’s an excerpt:

Arrive on a cloudless day and you’re greeted by a silent choir of twinkling quartz gleaming back in the day-long sunshine that bathes its lofty grit stone facade. Next you step through twin lancet arched doorways into the calming warmth of the nave. Your humbled gaze rises to soaring arched beams rested on decorative stone corbels of eagles and cherubs hovering high in the heavens above you.

It really is difficult to imagine a coal-mining straight-talking Yorkshireman’s voice enunciating a fancy description like this and keeping a straight face. There’s a time and a place for eloquence, just not strewn in the midst of other plain English copywriting that’s crafted to cut straight to the point.

Here’s the second draft of the copy:

With sympathetically restored arches and decorative period carvings, our office is the kind of place that makes you feel inspired to work there. And you’ll know why we chose it instinctively when you visit.

Mea culpa.