Tool #2 Order Words for Emphasis

Updated: Jan 13

Drowning in a sea of work isn't a problem for me because I am a life vest. 

What did you notice about this sentence? Did any words stand out to you? Did you see that I put the gerund "drowning" as the first word, which is a verb that acts as a noun? The word "drowning" conjures up emotions and pulls you in to want to read more. The middle words aren't as important, "Isn't a problem for me" isn't all that glamorous and exciting until we get to the end of the sentence, right? "I am the life vest" is a pretty bold metaphor, and creates an image in your mind. 

I am picturing a laptop-shaped life vest, coming up out of the water, and floating down the sea getting work accomplished! This is how I see myself. I am a life vest for you, so your business can stay afloat! 

This technique is referred to as "order words for emphasis," according to Roy Peter Clark, author of "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer." The best advice he gives for this tool is this: "In a column of type, a reader's eyes are likewise drawn to the words next to the white space. Those words shout, 'Look at me!'" Utilizing this strategy in blog posts, marketing emails, and even social media ads, will boost consumer response rates immediately. This technique is often used in newspaper articles to emphasize dramatic events. So why not use it in your ads? 

Perhaps you are selling a product that has some urgency or necessity attached to it. For example, you are a toilet paper company, and you are marketing your toilet paper to a large family that has "just run out." You let your potential consumers know that your toilet paper lasts 50% longer than the "other company's" toilet paper. Let's say the name of your company is "Big Time TP." 

Here is what I am picturing. You see a parent fussing with her three children. Then she enters the bathroom. The camera pans to a hand, reaching for the toilet paper. The toilet dispenser is empty. Here is the text that pops up in the ad:

Large families demand a toilet paper that can deliver big time! Starting with "large families demands" instantly creates a connection between advertisement and consumer. "A toilet paper that..." isn't all that glamorous until we reach the end, "can deliver big time!" Now, here is their slogan:

Big Time TP understands the problem in every household: more than one person poops. Offering 50% more to a roll, Big Time TP always delivers!

The technique is applicable when using quotations, too. Be sure to put the quote, then the explainer, then the rest of the quote. For instance: 

"What you plant now," explains the American Author Og Mandino, "you will harvest later."

See how the quotation is illuminated on both ends of the sentence? This technique is especially useful when writing blog posts. You may even want to use this when you add a testimonial on your website. 

In essence, putting the goods on the ends of the white space attracts more readers. Enjoy using this technique when creating marketing content! 


Clark, R. P. (2008). Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.

Columbus, GA: Little, Brown.

Top 10 Best Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Right-Handed Writing 

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