How to be a better financial writer [part 1]

Our editors cut no SLACC

When an editor reads bad writing, they have to read it all the way to the end in order to provide feedback to the writer.

It’s part of the job. 

But when your customer reads bad writing, they just stop reading. 

Not only that, they might also form an unconscious (or fully conscious) negative opinion about the brand that allowed that writing to see the light of day. 

If you’ve ever wanted to become a better writer or editor, or you just want to know how Finance Studio edits writing, this post is for you.

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A look inside our editing handbook

Is writing hard? It can be. But if you follow certain guidelines, it can help make things a lot easier. 

After our writers complete a first draft, it goes through two editorial reviews.

That’s right, we don’t have just one editor, we have two — for every single piece of content we deliver.

This is for two primary reasons:

1. Editing is highly subjective, and we find that having two editors replaces some of that subjectivity with more objectivity, and

2. Every writer needs an editor, and every editor needs an editor.

Our first-line editor is the first person to look at a piece after the writer. It’s their job to apply our “SLACC” editing method.

Pronounced just like the popular workplace collaboration software, our SLACC acronym stands for:

• S – Structure
• L – Length
• A – Accuracy
• C – Consistency
• C – Clarity

Today, we’re talking about the first pillar of our editorial guidelines: Structure.

3 questions that improve structure

When considering the structure or flow of your article, ask yourself three key questions:

1. Does the article’s arrangement from beginning to end present a logical progression of ideas? Do the paragraphs segue well from one to the next?

2. Does the article introduce a concept or argument then elaborate and support it to reach a logical conclusion?

3. Does the final paragraph tie the concepts together neatly without being overly verbose or repetitive?

Okay, that was four questions.

But segues can make or break the overall flow of an article, so we treat them as one. 

Here’s the thing: your readers might not even notice a well-structured article. They read it, get to the end, and hopefully learn something along the way.

On the other hand, readers do notice poorly structured articles.

They may find themselves re-reading or going back to the previous sentence or paragraph to clarify what the writer was trying to say.

Financial content marketing is even more crucial to get right. Writing for this audience should be direct and clear, carefully avoiding any strain to get to the meaning.

No easy task when you think about the complexities of financial subject matter.

If you structure, they will read

Structure writing for better reading and SEO

Effective sub-headers (also known as H2 and H3 tags for SEO purposes) placed strategically throughout your article can help with content flow and breaking up longer pieces into more digestible chunks.

Subheads also help act as a sort of  TL;DR, so people can get a basic idea of the message, or help them skim to get to the part they want to read, or find their place again when they return to the article for a refresher.

Subheads also appease Google and other search algorithms as they mine the interwebs for relevant content to shortlist for user queries.

Different types of financial writing may need different structures

The effectiveness of structure may vary across different deliverables.

For instance, an annual report, like we produced for Options Group, might require a highly structured approach that methodically presents the company’s financial status, strategic direction, and future outlook.

But a financial news article might prioritize immediate clarity and engagement, employing bold headers and bullet points to quickly communicate key updates.

The final product demands a structure tailored to its purpose and audience, ensuring that information is not only presented logically but in a way that suits the style and expectations of the reader.

Advanced structural writing techniques 

Techniques such as parallelism—using similar patterns of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance—can help maintain rhythm and clarity.

Narrative techniques can be applied to create a compelling storyline in annual reports or investment overviews, making them much more engaging.

In the end, a team of thoughtful writers and editors can transform the most mundane financial documents into a persuasive and engaging narrative.

Can AI writing tools help structure financial writing?

Yes and no.

According to ChatGPT, it can’t handle financial content as well as you can.

And while certain tools can help streamline the editing process, they cannot fully replace the nuanced judgment of a human editor who ensures the writing resonates with your audience, maintains the voice of your financial brand, and frankly, sells better.

ChatGPT, Grammarly, and Hemingway can all help assess readability and structure. But before sending it off to print, a review by a flesh-and-blood editor is crucial to ensure the writing sounds natural and human, particularly important in financial writing where trust and confidence (not to mention compliance) are paramount.

Join us next week
We delve into the science of the best content length for maximum readership, and also the “L” of our editing checklist: Length.

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