I have been asked to write some copy for a personal website. The individual is a professional and i have been mulling over whether it is better to write in the third person or the first person. Would it also be good practice to mix the two; for instance, thiird person on home page and perhaps first person on the about page.
In my opinion first person. Third only for references.
I’ve done it both ways and I keep coming back to first person. The trick is to not start too many sentences with the word “I”. The fewer the better.
Should this be similar in all pages then?
No, it should be the same. If it is a one-person website, blog, or business using third person makes it look as if it has more staff than it actually has… not a good way to build credibility. That’s why I find myself falling back to first person. Although it is more difficult to write without appearing narcissistic, I think it is more ethical and it is definitely more honest.
lets say, i have one or two people working for me or with me, would this still apply if i had an assistant who handled everything.
If you had one or two people working with you and an assistant that handled everything, it wouldn’t be a personal page would it? It it’s a business page, the About Page is meant to be about the business: goals, achievements, founder, and staff. In that case of course it would be written in third person.
If you used “we” then it could still be first person (which is what I often do on my own websites).
You’re right! We, our, etc. are all first person and although most grammar sites recommend against mixing POV’s, it’s common in business content to use your company name throughout your text (to increase name recognition and comprehension) and follow the company name with pronouns such as we and our. For example:
“ABC Thingamajigs manufactures high-quality thingamajigs and whatsits. Depend on us for precision work in thingamajig manufacture.”
Overall, I would say that when a business has more than one employee, that’s the route to travel. However, if you are a single person doing business, I think third-person (although I have done it both ways) is a little too narcissistic.
What is most important is that, whatever POV you use in your content, you keep aware of the fact that your content is being read by a potential customer and you work to make them understand that there is a person on the other end of the keyboard that is helping them and not just blowing smoke.
One thing I don’t like is when the subject moves from the company name (in the singular or plural) to “we/us”. It would be better to say who the “we/us” refers to, or make “we/us” the subject from the beginning. So in the line above, when I see “us” in the second sentence, I think—who’s that? I know technically it’s the people who work at the company, but I still don’t like the grammar of it. I’d prefer something like:
At ABC Thingamajigs, we manufacture high-quality thingamajigs and whatsits. Depend on us for precision work in thingamajig manufacture.
ABC Thingamajigs manufactures high-quality thingamajigs and whatsits, guaranteeing precision work in thingamajig manufacture.
Just my 2c.
Pretty thin hair you’re splitting there, ralph.m I do get your point, though, and your way is probably more correct. My example was probably poor, but the thing is, you can’t use the name of the company in every sentence so you just about have to fall back on the “we”, “us”, or “our”.
When you say "guaranteeing precision work… " you’re still talking about the company and not involving the customer. In sales copy it’s very important to use active verbs to call for action. Hence, “Depend on us.” Of course you could say, Depend on ABC Thingamajigs… but there you use the company name again. It’s a puzzlement, but sometimes what is grammatically correct isn’t the best way to convert visitors to customers.
For me it goes like this, first person is for writing blog posts and how to articles while third person is for writing press releases and formal articles.
I’d go with first person. If I’m doing the copy for you, then I need to put it on the first person (or whatever you, the client, choose, since no one should ‘feel’ it’s not the same person). If it’s my site, then 1st person only. It makes my visitors/clients connect better I think.
Any style of writing is useful to a specific group. Most informational articles are written in second-person. A lot of people feels you’re directly talking to them when articles use “you.” First person is probably the most informal style of writing. It’s entertaining to read and the overall message of the content can easily mark an impact to your readers. Most articles with a formal tone use the third person. This technique might sound too formal for some but this is still the preferred style for a few. To answer your question, it’s better if you’ll stick with the existing style that is already used. A website can lose its real identity if you’ll keep varying the styles.