Tip Tuesday: In Copywriting, “Up” Gets the Thumbs Down

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Elevate your copywriting – down with “up.”

All due respect to Mick and the rest of The Stones, but I do not want you to start me up. More specifically, I don’t want to see the phrase “start up” in any advertising, marketing or PR materials. In Mick’s words, it’s enough to “…make a grown man cry.” (Well, this one, anyway.)

For some reason, we Midwesterners love to add “up” to “start whenever we can:

  • I wandered over to start up a conversation.  /  I wandered over to start a conversation.
  • We started up deliveries in the southern part of the city about a month ago.  /  We started deliveries in the southern part of the city about a month ago.
  • There’s a dude in a mask with a chainsaw coming! Start up your car and let’s get aych-e-double-toothpicks outta here!  /  There’s a dude in a mask with a chainsaw coming! Start your car, and let’s get aych-e-double-toothpicks outta here!

In each case, dropping the “up” makes the sentence shorter. (We’ll tackle the overuse of exclamation points in another Tuesday Tip, mmmmmmm-k?) The only time “start” and “up” should show up as a pair is when they form a compound adjective – “It’s a start-up venture.” And, let’s face it, the only place it has to go is up.

There’s no downside to dropping “up” from your advertising, marketing and public relations copywriting. I’d lose that if I were you.

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