Are you one of those people who read the newspaper with a keen eye out for grammar mistakes? Do you feel a jarring sensation in the language center of your brain when you notice someone use the word “to” instead of “too” or “two” in the daily editorial?
You aren’t alone. There are people like you all over the Web, cringing when they read the grammatical catastrophes that litter websites, which is why it is so important to make sure your online copy is clean and clear.
Even if you aren’t one of those people who pay attention to the minutia of English grammar, punctuation and style, remember that even little mistakes can be a turnoff for potential readers. Not only will good writing make you and your business look more professional, but it will also ensure that you are being clear and getting your point across.
Most business leaders do not major in English or journalism, which means effective writing can be difficult and often takes a backseat to other marketing considerations. The sad truth is that bad writing can greatly damage your credibility.
Beyond spelling and grammar tweaks, here are some tips to improve your online copy:
Proofread: Above all, remember to always proofread your writing before you publish it. If you read through what you wrote, and it doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t make sense to anyone else!
Better yet, have someone else proofread it, too. If you have a third party read through your work, he or she can tell you if your writing makes sense and point out errors you may have missed. Spell checks and grammar checks can be unreliable; even if you do not see any squiggly red lines under words in Microsoft Word, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any errors!
Simplify your message: Think of your audience. Web surfers come from all educational and technical backgrounds, so make your writing easy for anyone to understand. Unless you are writing for a very specific field, your readers are probably not experts in your trade.
Say you work for a medical center and you are writing about a new procedure to identify exudative macular degeneration using an indocyanine green angiogram. Yikes! I don’t know what the heck that means! We use a lot of jargon in our trades, and the more technical the trade, the more confusing it can be for those who aren’t familiar with what we do.
When you are writing, remember that your readers are not experts, so avoid the technical details. Give them the nuts and bolts and explain it in plain English!
The most important thing to remember about writing, whether it be blogging or just copy for a website, is that it needs to make sense. You will have much more authority over your topic, and your readers will thank you.