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Throwback Thursday – Nuts and Bolts: Inside Verse

January 15, 2015


As an artist or photographer, images may come easy, words…not so much. Yet it’s a fact that shoppers are attracted to a card because of the design on the front, but they BUY the card because of what it says on the inside.

We sometimes forget that a greeting card is more than just a piece of paper with a pretty image – it’s a MESSAGE from the buyer to the recipient. A greeting card’s sentiment expresses what the buyer would say if they could but can’t, because feelings are hard to communicate. The card’s inside verse is part of a conversation as well as part of a relationship between two people.

To be successful, we must never lose sight of that simple truth.

If you want to write good greeting card copy, here are some things to avoid:

  • Too Formal: The formality of your inside verse will depend on the card’s purpose. Unless you’re writing for a card that requires  more formal language, such as condolence or wedding, you should keep your writing in tune with the tone. Don’t worry too much about correct grammar unless that degree of formality is required. Stay away from  technical terms or obscure words unless you’re deliberately writing for a specialized niche market.
  • Too Much Description: Avoid overuse of adjectives (unless you’re using them for effect). Once you write down your inside verse, eliminate all adjectives. Does that still get the message across? If not, try adding back one adjective at a time. Don’t go overboard.
  • Too Much Schmaltz: While a heartfelt message can hit the mark, don’t go too far and drown your verse in syrupy sentiments. Simplify your inside verse, pare it down to its basics, and try to find ways of expressing your message without clichés. Be clear.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing: Don’t go on and on in the mistaken belief that the longer your message, the more desirable. A verse that gets to the point without meandering around will always be preferred. If you can say it in one sentence, why use two? Shoppers need to be able to instantly grasp your point, so stay concise.
  • Too Controversial: Avoid tasteless or insulting jokes unless you’re targeting a niche market. The general audience will likely give such cards a pass.

So how DO you write good inside verse? Here’s an exercise that may help: when considering inside verse, pretend you’re sitting with your best friend having a conversation. How would you speak to them? What words would you use? How would you connect with them?

As creators of greeting cards, we must remember that a card is like a hand of friendship extended from one person to another. Our words are the most important part of our designs, and could be the reason why an otherwise attractive design isn’t selling.

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