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Writing Copy - English with a French Accent


Writing Copy - English with a French Accent

You have a French property that you would like to rent out for longer term lets. You have identified your market, worked out your monthly prices and where to advertise. Now you need to properly describe your accommodation to attract your customers. Writing successful copy is more than a simple factual listing of your facilities. Some effort is necessarily required in order to produce good, readable copy. Take your time, it's worthwhile. Remember to run the text through a spell checker. Ask someone else to read the text and provide feedback. Leave it for a day or two and reread it. Does it still read well? Is there anything you have missed? Try and convey some of your enthusiasm for your property and its surroundings.

Much of your copy can be reused in your various online and offline adverts. Sometimes, however, it will be necessary to amend your text slightly to fit the particular requirements of an advert. Property rental adverts can vary in the text that is required from advertisers. Some list facilities such as kitchen equipment, type of heating system, whether pets are allowed etc in separate sections or as individual icons. Your text should always be reviewed, and amended if required, prior to submission of a new advertisement. There is little point in mentioning your kitchen facilities twice. 

Your opening paragraph and summary should be particularly well thought out. Make each word count as the text is normally limited for summary descriptions. You want to draw the reader in. This is your shop window so sharpen your pencil and make each word count.

Do try to use the various French characters to correctly identify place names etc. If you have a French keyboard the characters shown at the touch of a button are normally: é,è,ç,à, but what about the â and ï...? And if you don't have a French keyboard how do you reproduce the various characters? One method in Windows is by using the Alt key and a numeric code. Consult the table below, hold down the Alt key and type in the number of the required character with the numeric keypad, release the Alt key and the French character should appear, eg Alt 131 gives â. Note the numbers must be entered using the numeric keypad and not with the numbers running along the top of your keyboard. Alternatively, you can simply copy and paste the required characters.

I have listed the French characters below, although a few are used only rarely.


â Alt 131 Â Alt 0194 à Alt 133 À Alt 0192 æ Alt 145 Æ Alt 146
ç Alt 135 Ç Alt 128 é Alt 130 É Alt 144 è Alt 138 È Alt 0200
ê Alt 136 Ê Alt 0202 ë Alt 137 Ë Alt 0203 î Alt 140 Î Alt 0206
ï Alt 139 Ï Alt 0207 ô Alt 147 Ô Alt 0212 œ Alt 0156 Œ Alt 0140
û Alt 150 Û Alt 0219 ù Alt 151 Ù Alt 0217 ü Alt 129 Ü Alt 154
ÿ Alt 0255 Ÿ Alt 0159 « Alt 174 » Alt 175 Alt 0128    


An availability calendar should, ideally, be used but be careful when mentioning specific dates in your copy. For example, "my property is available for long lets from October 2011 to April 2012". Fine, except that if your property is also available for the same months the following year, you could be losing business - many, especially those looking for longer lets, our area of expertise, like to book well in advance. Think ahead and keep your availability up to date and accurate.

Be consistent in your writing. When advertising a French property stick to kilometres for distance to the nearest village etc, square metres for room sizes and metres for the size of your swimming pool.

No slang please. Use clear unambiguous English with no abbreviations, slang or turns of phrase that a non-English speaker would find confusing or difficult to understand. The internet is a worldwide medium. Your advert may be in English but could be accessed by any nationality. For example, nearly 50% of our clients looking for longer rentals come from outside the UK. Automatic computer translation could be used on your advert to produce at best interesting and poetic results. Be succinct, don't take ten words when six would do. Less is more. This is particularly important for summary descriptions where text is restricted.

The title for your advert should be descriptive and engaging. Simply giving the name of your property is not really going to do the trick (unless it's quite a name!). A few glowing adjectives should headline your appearance on the worldwide web, perhaps in conjunction with your properties name - 'Le Tournesol - Romantic Gîte in a Sea of Sunflowers'. (that's the Alt 140 in use!)

(Published September/October 2011)




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