How to Write a Great Personal Ad

For a moment, imagine that you've been invited to a party, at which there will be many available, interesting men and women. How would you present yourself: angry, wearing your heart on your sleeve, dressed in a ratty sweatshirt? Of course not! You'd put on your best face, dress elegantly and be witty and charming and friendly, right? Well, those are the "secrets" to writing a good personal ad. It's about showing off your best attributes. Here are 12 ways to translate your best self into words on a page from Trish McDermott, Match.Com's dating expert:

DO set the mood:
Choose a time and place where you're relaxed to start writing your profile. Turn on music you enjoy, pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of tea, get in a good mood; the pleasant way you feel will be reflected in what you write.

DO write all your thoughts down before posting them online or in a paper:
Organize your words, edit, rewrite, and spell- and grammar-check it. You may meet your life partner this way; isn't it worth an extra few minutes to get it right?

DO show your personal style:
Your eccentricities help paint an accurate picture of yourself. If you talk in a stream-of-consciousness style, let that show in your profile. If you have a wacky sense of humor, exhibit it.

DO put your heart in it:
Share your feelings and experiences, not just facts about your life. You don't want your profile to be a touchy-feely pile of mush (can you hear your potential dates heading for the door?), but you do want to communicate things people can relate to: where you're from, where you are, where you're going in life, what makes you laugh, things you really enjoy about life.

Next page: Which three attributes should you put in your personal? Click here to find out!

DO try to communicate these three attributes:
your senses of humor, integrity and self-confidence. These are characteristics people most look for in a mate. A word of caution: Don't confuse self-confidence with boasting or sounding egotistical. Temper your lists of accomplishments with signals that you don't take yourself too seriously.

DO include a photo:
On Match.Com, profiles accompanied by a photo have four to five times as many responses as those that don't. Choose a photo in which you're alone (one with your ex is a big NO-NO), smiling, well-lit and looking good. Don't use a photo in which you're dressed too revealingly -- you want to look elegant and alluring, but a picture of you in a bikini is going to attract the wrong kind of responses.

DON'T work on your profile when you're feeling down:
If you've just gotten shot down at work, are having a bad-hair day or feel fat, that's going to color the way you portray yourself. Wait a day or two until you're feeling better.

DON'T overthink it:
You want your profile to reflect who you are, not some imaginary being you think people will be more attracted to. Your profile should have life to it; avoid letting it get flat and lacking in personality.

DON'T give negative details:
Rambling on about your insane ex, your last visit to the therapist or how you hate men who can't commit is a turn-off in an ad, just as it is in person.

DON'T fixate on only one aspect of your life:
You may love your dog, have a great career, live to ski, and those are great things to talk about in your profile. But if you talk about that and only that, you're going to come off as one-dimensional and obsessed. Show your fully rounded self.

DON'T give a laundry list:
Just listing all the details about your life, or the type of mate you're looking for, is boring.

DON'T think that once you've posted your profile, that's it:
You can tweak and improve your profile as you go along. If you're getting the type of responses you're looking for, great. (Share your tips on the Finding Mr. Right message board.) If you're getting responses from the wrong types of people or not getting as many responses as you'd like, then review your profile and think about how you can improve it and make yourself shine a little bit more. We don't get many "do-overs" in life; take advantage of them when they pop up.

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