The digital age has made it far too easy to ignore writing basics such as good grammar, punctuation and even complete sentences. While these cringeworthy writing mistakes are now acceptable in mainstream communication, letting them creep into your professional content distracts readers, suggests you don’t care, and can really damage your reputation as an industry thought leader.
Never fear! The Weidert Group Content Queens are back to make you aware of four common writing mistakes, and provide a few tips on how to fix them.
Writing Mistake No. 1: Pluralization
Properly using plurals can be tricky.
Read this sentence: “The five businesses got a fine from the IRS.”
On its face, all appears well (except that pesky fine from the government.)
However, pulling the sentence apart, it suggests that one fine was assessed against five businesses. It’s risky to assume that your readers will understand that each of the five businesses received a fine.
Remove any possibility of misinterpretation by correcting the pluralization of “fines,” like so: “The five businesses got fines from the IRS.” Now, the sentence conveys that the IRS doled out a fine to each of the five businesses.
Writing Mistake No. 2: Non-conversational English
Many industrials are highly technical and academic, so it’s easy to slip into dry “textbook writing” when developing content.
While “a personal device for repelling liquid precipitation” sounds quite highbrow, simply calling it “an umbrella” is sufficient.
Abandoning stuffy writing for a more conversational tone doesn’t diminish your authority. If anything, it makes you more approachable.
The long and short of it is this: Write to express, not impress.
Writing Mistake No. 3: Wordiness
Remember, in business time is money.
Respect your readers enough to get to the point quickly. You don’t have to strip away personality, but resist the urge to write flowery narratives. Exceedingly long, non-essential blog lead-ins, for example, will probably cause more readers to think “So what?” rather than “Tell me more!”
Blogs are usually about 600-800 words. Make good use of that real estate by providing easily digestible, on-point information.
Writing Mistake No. 4: “Like” vs. “Such As”
What gives, Content Queens? “Like” and “such as” mean the same thing.
Since writers regularly use these phrases interchangeably, one would think so — but it’s not true.
“Like” suggests a similarity or comparison. “Such as” introduces examples.
Let’s break that down using my current obsession with the Hamilton musical.
The sentence “I enjoy musicals like Hamilton” suggests I like Broadway shows that are somehow similar to Hamilton — they may have a political bent, actors in puffy shirts, or dueling. It doesn’t mean I enjoy Hamilton in and of itself.
“I enjoy musicals such as Hamilton” is an accurate statement. It conveys that Hamilton, in specific, is a musical I enjoy.
It’s a little confusing, but taking a minute to clarify your intent will help you choose the right phrase.
Now that you’re aware of these four common writing mistakes, you’re halfway to correcting them and really ratcheting up your content credibility. Take it from the Content Queens, it pays to treat your copywriting like royalty.
Have some writing slip-ups you’d like the Content Queens to address? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.