Being Funny in Web Copy: A Guide to When and How

Funny Church Signs
Have you ever wondered whether it’s okay (or appropriate) to pepper your web copy with humour? How do you decide when it’s a good time to be funny?

Humour can please your audience, but it can easily offend, confuse and disappoint.

I’ve been writing copy for a few different social networks and they often need something light-hearted. After puzzling over when, where and how to inject humour into the web copy, I decided to write a sort of ‘humour style guide’ that dictates when it’s okay to use humour.

This is my own guide (use it if you like):

Good Funny

It’s good to be funny:

  • When things go wrong
  • When people don’t follow instructions
  • When you’re giving people a longer explanation of a feature (humour helps break up the educational journey)
  • When it’s appropriate (ha! Whatever that means…)

Bad Funny

It’s bad to be funny:

  • All the time (relentless attempts at humour are very tiring)
  • When people just want to get something done
  • When space doesn’t really allow
  • When it obscures meaning
  • When it complicates something that should be simple
  • When it’s forced
  • When it alienates a section of your audience

Note: this was something I mainly cooked up for MyMotor, a social network for people who love cars. And some of it arose from thinking about how to write for ArtBuzz, a micro-blogging site for art lovers.


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