Alliteration Always Adds Ardor (to Your Writing)

The teeming, twinkling taxis of New York City are alliterative…

Just because most of my clients are small business owners doesn’t mean I don’t have any fun when writing website content, brochure copy, newsletter articles, etc. One sneaky way I work some creativity into even the most buttoned-up copy is by using that old standby, alliteration.

If you don’t remember from your school days, alliteration is a form of figurative language. All this means is that you describe something by comparing it with something else. Other types of figurative language include similes, metaphors, and onomatopoeia (I don’t use that one too often in business writing!). Because alliteration is so easy to blend into marketing collateral materials, I deem it quite business friendly and something you should try.

Still not sure what alliteration is after reading this blog post’s headline? For posterity, the Merriam-Webster’s definition is: “The repetition of (usually) initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and wooly, threatening throngs).”

In days of old, poets used alliteration in their poems to add emphasis and rhythm when reading their works aloud. Some poets you might have encountered (in print) during your formative years who used alliteration include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, John Milton and a perennial favorite, Robert Frost. Here’s a lovely and lilting sample from the “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” man himself:

“I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet / When far away an interrupted cry / Came over houses from another street.” (from ‘Acquainted with the Night,’ by Robert Frost)

Poetry is fine and dandy, but what is the practical application of alliteration for business writing purposes? Here are some (completely spontaneous!) ways you might consider working alliteration into your print or web marketing materials:

  • In an Email Subject Line: “Who Has Hours to Harvest Email Addresses?”
  • In a Company Tagline or Slogan: “Yum Your Taste Buds Tonight!”
  • In a Brochure Header: “Dip Into Our Den of Dance Instruction”
  • Even in Body Copy: “At Full Metal Jacket Martial Arts Studio, we never nail your name to our wall of fame unless you earn it. Whether your belt is blue, brown or black, we offer you a level ‘kicking and punching’ field!”

I think my work here is done, so now it’s your turn. How do you experiment with language when crafting print or web marketing copy? Would other types of figurative language interest you as topics for future posts? Did this post cause you to reminisce about one of your high school English teachers, but in a good way? Thanks for reading – follow this blog via the RSS icon (top right corner) or share if you dare!

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

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