Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Grammar for Bloggers - 3 Easy Steps to Improve your Writing




         Image Courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigital Photos.net

One of the most frustrating things I come across everyday is a blog with quality content, poorly written. Why does this happen?  Nine times out of ten it's easily avoidable.  

In this post we'll look at 3 simple things you can do to improve the readability of your blog. Remember, this is a blog, it's not a business plan! I'm not suggesting your blog should be written in a formal style. 

What I am saying is that your words should flow off the page. A blog is like a conversation, your reader should feel like you're sitting right there in their living room with them. You want them to warm up to you. How on earth are you going to do that with lousy grammar?

As you're writing in an informal style you can get away with a little less structure. But that doesn't mean you throw the grammar book out the window! Let's look at those 3 things we still want to keep in mind when writing in this less formal style.


Sentence Structure

What do we know about a Sentence? It starts with a capital and ends with some form of punctuation such as a period or a question mark. Simple right? Not quite that simple.

Start mind the with end in. Seems like a complete sentence by the standards we've set. It has a capital at the beginning of the sentence and a period at the end. But it doesn't make any sense! We have to pay attention to the structure of the sentence as well.

This sentence should have been written as "Start with the end in mind." Don't be discouraged if you're not confident in your sentence structure. Get help! Use spelling and grammar check on your computer, and have someone proofread your work.

English grammar does not come easily to everyone. Heck it might not even be your first language. That doesn't mean it's okay to produce sloppy work and expect people to stay interested. If you put the effort into double checking what you write, you will be rewarded. Revise, and revise again!


Spelling

When I think about some common spelling mistakes, one thing really stands out for me. Spell check won't always save you! Do you know when to use there instead of their? How about when to use to or too? In both instances the words are spelled correctly, but choosing the right one depends on what context you're using the word in.

In English there are many examples like this. I don't have time to go over all of them here, but I can certainly give you some advice on the subject. If you're not sure get help! A Google search will usually point you in the right direction, but if it doesn't help ask someone. Better to be sure, than to publish your work and find out later it's full of spelling mistakes.


Punctuation

This is one area where people have the most trouble. When do I use a comma? Should I use a period? What do I do when I want to use a list? We can go on an on, but you get the idea.

So how do we know what punctuation to use? Try to write it like you would say it. Remember, in a blog you are carrying on a conversation with your reader. Does your sentence call for a period, a question mark, or an exclamation mark? Visualize the conversation, if you're still not sure get help!

Don't forget about the semicolon and the colon. The semi colon is usually used to separate two independent, but related clauses. The colon is generally reserved for lists.

The most important thing you can do is go over your work several times before you publish. If there's anything that doesn't look quite right to you, it's probably not. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We can all use some once in a while. It's nothing to be ashamed of. 

Did you find this article helpful? I hope so. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.