If you are in business, chances are you have to write from time to time. Whether it’s a blog posting on your website, a press release for the media, an email to a potential client, or marketing copy for a new product, words matter.
Often, certain types of text are best left for writing by a professional. This is especially true if you need to optimize your words for search engine optimization (SEO). But, we certainly can’t all walk around with a professional copywriter trailing behind us all day for things that we need to get written right away. Therefore, writing tasks fall on our shoulders throughout any given day.
Unfortunately, certain writing mistakes can make your copy look like an amateur wrote it. Sometimes just slowing down to read what you have written, before pressing send, or using spellcheck or grammar checkers in your software, can make a difference in what you put out there for the public to consume.
To avoid your text from looking like someone who is less than professional wrote it, here are some common mistakes to avoid, and to check for, in your writing.
1.) Incorrect spelling.
Nothing will get your writing called out more than incorrectly spelled words. Luckily, with the use of spell checking software, you can find and correct spelling mistakes with ease. However, this is no substitute for proofreading, as a few more of the problems mentioned below will show you.
2.) Incorrect use of apostrophes.
The wrong use of apostrophes can undermine your credibility as a writer. These are such common mistakes. Apostrophes are used for two reasons — to show ownership or to denote missing letters.
Let’s take, for example, the “its” and “it’s” uses. “Its” denotes ownership. For example, “I love its (meaning an object) color.” Whereas “it’s” is an abbreviation for “it is.” Used in a sentence one might say, “It’s a lovely color.”
3.) Not using commas correctly.
Sometimes people are pressed for time. And in their rush, they often forget to use commas in their writing. Make sure that you are correctly using commas when you write. Here is an example of the way the meaning of a sentence can change when you don’t:
I like cooking my family and my pets.
Yikes! Use commas correctly. Don’t be a psycho!
4.) Changing tense.
Pick a tense and stick with it. Don’t bounce back and forth between tenses when you are writing. According to the article, The Art of Using Correct Verb Tenses in Your Writing, on the Huffington Post:
“Enforcing consistent verb tense in your writing is crucial. Nothing makes an editor’s brain hurt more than trying to read through distracting or confusing verb tenses. If one sentence has so many varying tenses that readers don’t know if you’re coming or going, you can be sure your work is going to end up in the editor’s reject pile.”
5.) Speaking text.
Texting has made our life easier in some ways, as we can instantly communicate with people that need a fast answer. Of course, when we text, we are usually in a hurry and on-the-go, so we often use abbreviations to speed the process along some.
Don’t be in such a hurry when you are writing copy that reflects on your business. Don’t let “text speak” work its way into your business writing. Never shorten words the way you might in a text message. Avoid using “U” in place of “you,” or “TY” in place of “thank you.” It makes it harder for your reader to understand, especially if they aren’t a texting pro, like you may be.
6.) Using the wrong word.
Even with software that does an excellent job at checking for incorrectly spelled words, it often misses a common mistake — using the wrong word in a sentence. “Their” and “there” are both words that, even when spelled correctly, have different meanings. Spell checking also won’t pick up on words such as “can,” when you meant to say “cane.”
This is where proofreading your copy comes in. Always proofread before you put something out. Even better yet, have someone else proofread for you. Other people are often better at finding mistakes in our writing; then we are ourselves. Wired Magazine covered the reason why it’s so hard to catch our own typos in an article on their website that’s worth reading.
Photo credit: Bru-nO / Pixabay
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