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Active and passive—financial copywriting’s greatest double act

In financial copy, less is more Short and to the point is preferable to the alternative. Covering too much ground using too many words, is a turn off. And the perception that most financial products and services are ‘boring’ does little to help.

So what are your options? Putting the reader’s interests front and centre—naturally. Keeping the word count down is good. Whereas patronising the reader and resorting to jargon isn’t. Then there’s the matter of voice…

The choice of voice—active or passive? Financial copy written in the active voice is easier to understand. It’s more direct. Sentences are shorter and more precise. (Active voice is mandatory for website content.) But active must be used with care. Too much of it and propositions can come across as impersonal, remote and officious—signals that do little to build a rapport.

You can have both! Putting any kind of distance between you and your client is to be avoided. So a balance needs to be struck. That can be done by blending the economy of the active voice with the warmer and more natural language of the passive voice.

It's just you and me Although it’s my job to get your point across, I always try to write as one human being to another. Sometimes that means taking account of life’s realities. Or introducing a lighter touch. But above all, what I write for you has to be interesting, unambiguous and effective. And irrespective of length or voice, I'll try to use as few words as possible.

Passive voice cartoon