Should you cp from copywriters?

By Matt Layman on August 19, 2013

Spend any time on the Internet looking at software information and you will find bad writing. Many software developers fail to write well. Or interestingly. Or persuasively. What should we do as a software community? Simple. Learn from those who write for a living.

My family gave quite a few puzzled looks when I got my copy of the The Copywriter’s Handbook for Christmas. This was not one of my typical “nerd books” so it was easy to understand the curious expressions. The book has none of the usual characteristics of my reading fare except for being non-fiction. They had no idea how this appeared on my Amazon wish list.

The handbook, written by Bob Bly, made it to my list after a posting by a prolific Perl blogger, chromatic. chromatic highlighted an area where software developers are poor communicators, and he suggested that we could all learn a thing or two from Bob about writing. I absolutely agree.

I read the handbook with few expectations since it was totally out of my field of expertise. After completing it, I have a couple of specific comments for software people.

The Copywriter’s Handbook is a great reference tool. Read the chapters that are on topics that interest you. Scan or skip the rest.

If you want to chat about this with me, I'm @mblayman on Twitter.

Matt Layman

Matt is the lead software engineer at Storybird.

Always eager to talk about Python and other technology topics, Matt organizes Python Frederick in Frederick, Maryland (NW of Washington D.C.) and seeks to grow software skills for people in his community.