How to dress your words for success

A lot of your words are meeting your audience for the first time.

So they need to make an effort in how they dress. Just like on a first date. After all, it’s no use having a great personality if the first thing your date sees is a splodge of gravy on your shirt and a smudge of toothpaste caked on your chin.

Here’s how to make them looking sharp, powerful, and like one of those sexy models you see in a glossy Esquire/Vogue-type publication.

The capital debate

You probably know that using CAPITALS in communication IS LIKE SHOUTING. You know what else? Capitals are also harder to read online.

Because the human eye looks for patterns when scanning online. And patterns are easier to make out when the words are lowercase. For example, which of the below is easier to read?



So are capitals bad? Not necessarily…

Maybe you don’t want your messaging to be scanned. You want a reader to slowly absorb every letter of every word of every sentence. In that case, you can try putting a word, or even a short sentence, in capitals. You just have to be sure that your words are worth the extra effort.

Look at a traditional newspaper font:


Those tails you see are serifs. On paper they look artistic. A classy addition to a flowing letter. A flourish at the end of a sentence. What’s not to like?

If you’re reading online, then… er… quite a lot.

Those serifs might look nice… but they make your text hard to read. Because serifs need to fit to pixels on a page. Zoom in enough and that smooth flourish begins to look blocky:


So hang up the serifs and leave them in your copywriting wardrobe.

Look at Apple’s font. Clean, simple, easy-on-the-eye.. Matching the brand, and the feeling of its devices.


Colour me in

The other thing to note about the Apple font is the colour scheme. Good old black and white. High contrast. Striking and easy to read.

Yes there are exceptions (Nespresso go for white text on black, but they are a luxury brand, and black signals luxury). So don’t be tempted to throw in lots of different colours…

Of course, a font on its own might help your brand. But give your font a hand. It can’t convert customers on its own. So give it a little support with some friends. That means making use of:

  • Headers
    These are essential for online, for two reasons. One – as a welcome to your visitors, enticing them in, and reassuring them that they’re in the right place. And two – to tell search engines what your pages are about. That means wrapping your headers in tags. <h1> for the most important header, <h2> for the subheading, <h3> and so on. Make sure you only have one <h1> per page, otherwise search engines will get confused about the page’s primary content.
  • Bold
    Great for… highlighting a word or short sentence. Helps people see what a paragraph is about, without having to read it all.
  • Italic
    Great for… adding subtle emphasis, like this
  • Underline
    Great for… not much. People think underline equals hyperlink. Which is fine when you’re hyperlinking. Otherwise avoid using, as you’ll only confuse your readers.
  • Bullets
    Great for using in lists. For extra oomph, start each one with an action verbs, to make them more powerful.

One last thing

Test out different fonts on your audience. Ask them what they think of a font, and when they answer, look out for words that match your brand. The more words you match, the more likely you’ll have found the right font for your website.