Writing guidelines

If you’re writing stuff for Got Users, follow these guidelines, but don’t waste hours trying to be perfect.

#1: Be specific

This means giving examples and details (without oversharing).

Bad: “What is love? It’s a feeling that bonds people together.”

Good: “What is love? It’s what you feel when you look into your partner’s eyes or when you look at your newborn baby.”

Bad: “I want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Good: “I’ve set aside 10 hours a week on my calendar to make edits based on your feedback.”

Bad: “We cut through complexity.”

Good: “We hire smart people to audit your complicated accounting statements.”

If you can’t be specific, it’s a sign you don’t actually have something to say.

#2: Avoid jargon. Write informally.

Unless there’s a really good reason — like you’re writing technical documentation or speechwriting for the Federal Reserve — avoid professional-sounding language.

Write like you’re speaking to a coworker or a friend. Use words they would understand.

Use contractions (can’t, won’t) instead of the full words (cannot, will not).

Bad: “I am reaching out because we share mutual interests and are part of each other’s professional network.”

Good: “I’m reaching out because I love your dog photos and we both know Jaylen Johnson.”

Our rule of thumb: if it sounds like a government official or Comcast support rep, you need to rewrite it.

#3: Remove filler words

Common culprits: the phrase “I think”, the word “that”, adverbs, passive voice.

Bad: “I think that the best thing to do here is to probably turn off the Facebook ads because we’re overspending our budget.”

Good: “We should turn off Facebook ads because we overspent our budget.”

Bad: “The work will be done by us.”

Good: “We’ll do the work.”

#4: Mix up long and short sentences


This is hard to do perfectly, but keep it in the back of your mind.

#5: Re-writing is 80% of the work

Get your idea down as fast you can, then spend most of your time improving what you wrote.

Here’s an example. (The words in yellow ultimately got deleted.)

More resources