Empathy is the key to good financial writing. That belief rests on a basic assumption: Effective content is about the reader. It’s not about the company producing the content (except to the extent that the reader needs to know about the company). And it certainly shouldn’t be about the writer.

Hence this TWC writing principle:

Don’t show off; show up.

It can be tempting for a writer to strike a pose—to fall in love with a clever turn of phrase or to insert a reference mainly because it sounds smart. Showing off in those ways tends to be counterproductive, because it inserts the writer between readers and the information they need.

At The Writing Company, we caution one another about the temptation to show off. And we encourage one another to show up: to bring honesty and generosity to the task of serving readers. That mind-set steers writers to create content that is truly helpful and therefore truly engaging. So when you’re working with writers, consider: Are they showing off, or are they showing up?