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Comms Copy Tips – 7 Tools to Sharpen Your Content

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Comms Copy Tips – 7 Tools to Sharpen Your Content

Clarity, construction and correctness are the three kings of great copy.

Writing content is a key skill required by most communicators and it’s not always easy to confidently cross off those three regal requirements when you’re short on time.

When you’re working in comms, time efficiency and optimal productivity are crucial. That’s why it doesn’t hurt to call in a little support every now and then to keep a check on things, help you find that elusive word you’ve been hunting or save you from a potentially embarrassing yet easily avoidable error.

These terrific tools are all free (or come at a very minimal cost), they’re easy to use across different devices and best of all; they’re great for on-demand writing that calls for speed and accuracy:


Just when you thought you’d written that article completely error-free, Grammarly manages to prove you wrong. Grammarly is one smart cookie, flagging errors like passive voice, split infinitives, and your dangling modifiers as you write. It helps you write mistake-free in Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and nearly anywhere else you write on the Web. It corrects grammatical mistakes (adhering to more than 250 grammar rules), spots spelling errors and smashes poor vocabulary usage. It will pick out words that have been correctly spelled but used in the wrong context and improve readability by intuitively suggesting alternatives. It’s genius!


Ginger Software is fun with a capital F! There’s a whole suite of powerful writing tools including proofreading, rephrasing, translation and a dictionary. It even includes a personal trainer tool that analyses the areas of English where your writing needs improvement and offers recommendations for practicing those skills. Now that’s smart.


The Thesaurus, a synonym solution for more than 100,000 words is a major part of my trusted toolkit. I don’t go a day without using it. Fire up your thesaurus to jump-start your vocabulary engine, reducing repetition whilst adding variety and interest. A thesaurus will also provide you with the definition or the history of any particular word.

TOP TIP: Occasionally I can’t put my finger on that one particular word I need. Strangely, I can think of its exact opposite! Use a Thesaurus to get out of this fix by typing in your opposite word to find the one you’re looking for.


This creative app is brilliant for giving you reassurance and confidence with your writing. If you’re in any doubt about a particular part of your text, run it through Writefull for instant feedback. It will check your copy against a massive universal database of text, and will then give you examples of how that text has been correctly used elsewhere. If you’re unsure about whether you’re using the right word in a sentence, highlight the sentence and Writefull will check against the database, showing you how that exact sentence has been used elsewhere with alternative, more appropriate words.

TOP TIP: Watch this short video for a full rundown – 


Gunning Fog

Make your writing easier to read. If I’m in doubt about whether my copy is overly complex, I run it through The Gunning Fog Index. It measures the readability of your writing by assessing the number of long words per sentence and estimates the years of formal education needed to grasp the text upon a first read. Text for a wide audience (your average, non-specialist reader) generally needs an index of less than 12. Text requiring near-universal understanding should have an index of less than 8. Unless your content is for a specific audience who’ll understand the heavy ins and outs, it’ll help you cut back on long sentences and ‘complex’ words.

TOP TIP: Your average sentence length should be 15 to 20 words, with shorter sentences generally being more effective. However, variety certainly is the spice of life and a mix of sentence length is a crucial part of good writing.

Hemingway App

The Hemingway App is for those who want to make their writing ‘bold and clear’. It highlights common problems that can get in the way of clear writing, colour coding each potential error type, including:

  • Complex words or phrases
  • Extra-long sentences
  • Long sentences
  • Too many adverbs
  • Too many instances of passive voice

Really simple and easy to use. Give it a go!

Drivel Defence

Drivel Defence is a software package that helps you to check the use of plain English. It was introduced by The Plain English Campaign, which has been ‘fighting for crystal clear communication since 1979’. This tool keeps gobbledegook at bay by checking sentence length as well as sniffing out wooly words and offering suitable alternatives. Down with drivel!

There are loads more tools out there that help you check and improve your writing. Some also help you to create templates for emails and articles to save time and power productivity. It’s well worth choosing your favourite few and making use of them whenever you’re creating content. You can vastly improve the quality of your writing and impress your readers with a cheeky bit of smart technology

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Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

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DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

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Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

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Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

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Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

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Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

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Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

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Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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