The written (and spoken) word is incredibly powerful. Great writing has been used throughout human existence to engage others, spark motivation, create support, argue for equality, instill confidence and countless other endeavors. As savvy marketers, we know the power of great writing; from a provocative article to a punchy social media caption, writing well is essential for your brand’s image.
UPRAISE President Tim Johnson is taking it back to grade school grammar lessons, reminding us of five things to avoid to enhance our writing.
1. Avoid Passive Voice
Avoid passive voice whenever possible. It’s a weak writing style and buries the subject of the sentence. If it’s not clear what the subject is, you need to do more research …
2. Avoid Ending Sentences in Prepositions
Formal, correct grammatical style rules say never end a sentence with a preposition. But, my amendment to this is it’s okay to relax this rule in normal conversation or informal writing. Are you really going to say, “For what reason did you do that?” versus “What did you do that for?” Probably not. Speaking like that can make others misinterpret your grammatically-correct sentence for a pretentious attitude. A happy medium is to rework – and often even simplify – the sentence so that it neither ends in a preposition or sounds snooty. Consider the alternative, “Why did you do that?” Simple, grammatically correct and to the point.
3. Avoid Typos
Typos make everyone look bad – you, your organization, your industry. If you struggle with spelling and grammar, enlist these steps to help ensure your writing is sound:
• Put the document you’re working on down for 15 minutes, then proof it one final time
• Have someone else proof it for you
• Read the document while reading the words
• Read the document backward
• Have someone read the document to you
4. Avoid Mistakes in Emails
Email might be the most common way for colleagues and clients to interact, but you should still treat it as you would other forms of written communication. Don’t mistake the medium’s lax nature for a lax take on the English language. When sending emails, either internally or to clients, make sure to:
• Re-check for tone, call to action, and that you appropriately answered or addressed what was needed
• Take an extra minute to proofread, not only for usage errors but also to ensure that all information is accurate – especially when programs like Outlook often seem to arbitrarily change things like your signature
• If the message has an attachment, always re-open it right before sending to ensure you have the correct version of the document
• When forwarding an email, check for typos; once you forward it, any typos become “yours.”
Though simple in nature and easy to execute, avoiding these common mistakes can positively impact your writing. Do you have your own writing tips (or blunders) to share? Leave them in a comment below!