Your vs. You’re…One Trick to Guarantee You Never Get It Wrong Again!

yourvs.you're(1)Occasionally mixing up the odd words that happen to sound similar is understandable. If you do a lot of writing, it may even be expected. However, this your and you’re confusion has reached epidemic proportions and it must be stopped.

They do sound almost the same when spoken, but their meanings are not the same at all, so when they are used incorrectly in writing the meaning of the sentence is thrown way out of whack. Luckily, there’s an easy way to fix it that you can use every time you encounter this issue.

Are you ready? (more…)

Why Accurate Fact Checking Is So Critically Important to Your Writing

fact checkingIt’s easy to think of “fact checking” as an activity reserved for term papers, essays and other writing that require historical accuracy. However, the need for correct factual information in writing extends far beyond the classroom.

No matter what type of writing you do, if you make claims, include statistics or relay stories, it is imperative that your facts are correct. And not the “your life may be in danger” kind of imperative, but imperative to your reputation as a writer.  (more…)

For All Intensive Purposes…and Other Commonly Misused Phrases

misused phrasesSometimes, to make your ideas flow from one to the next or to hammer home a point, you use a common phrase to get the job done. We all do it from time to time, but there is a problem. It seems that many of us heard these phrases incorrectly and then adopted the incorrect version as law, then spread them around society, continuing to this very day.

Speaking these phrases incorrectly is one thing, because they often sound similar to the correct way, but if you write them they will be there for everyone to see forever! (more…)

3 Headline Tips that Will Draw Your Reader In Like a Magnet

headline-tipsOpinions may vary about precisely how long you have to make an impression on a potential reader once they have seen your headline, but most seem to agree it’s less than five seconds. Most also agree that if your headline doesn’t pique curiosity, stir some emotion or promise a benefit, the headline will be the only thing the reader sees.

However you choose to look at it, the headline is critical to whatever you are writing, and if you don’t create a good one, everything else you’ve written is just a bunch of letters.

Here are three headline-writing tips that will help you draw the reader into the copy and continue reading.  (more…)

Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Automatic Grammar Checkers to Correct Your Writing

automatic-grammar-checkerIn an earlier post, we gave details on some of the problems associated with the Google Translate tool. Well, there’s another type of automated tool that often makes intelligent writers look foolish, and that is the automatic grammar checker. Grammar is crucial to every kind of writing, but relying on an automatic grammar checker to fix your mistakes is a recipe for disaster.

Here are a few reasons why:

The Rules are Limited

English grammar laws are pretty complex, and the rules for most grammar-checking software is limited, so the results are often incorrect. Automatic grammar checkers have problems with context, which is why they might let sentences that are nothing more than a mess of jumbled words go through, and flag sentences that make perfect sense in the context of the piece.

As an example…you are preparing a memo or review about giving an employee a promotion and you write, “We do not want to see Sally succeed and move into a management position.” A grammar checker won’t remove the word “not” even though it completely alters the meaning of the sentence, and poor Sally is sent home in tears.  Say what you mean and mean what you say doesn’t always work out when a grammar checker is in charge of your sentences. (more…)

What are Expletive Constructions and Why Should I Avoid Them?

expletive constructionsWhether you write professionally, churn out the odd report as part of your job, or write papers and stories in school, structural and grammatical missteps are part of the process. One such misstep is known as expletive construction.

No, this doesn’t refer to stuffing profanities into your sentences, but it will take away from the energy, flow and overall quality of the writing.  (more…)

Self-Editing Tips Every Writer Should Know

self-editingNo matter what you are writing, editing must be part of the process if you hope to impress your audience. Professional editing, with human experts going over your work, is always the best approach, but you can make a difference on your own. Here are some self-editing tips that will help you avoid basic mistakes and keep your writing on track.

Write First, Edit Later

An issue that many writers face is editing their work while they are writing. That inner editor just keeps working away when you should be productive, and the results are anything but efficient. You stop every couple of sentences to correct a spelling mistake, go back to rearrange a paragraph or sit there staring at the screen for five minutes trying to think of the perfect word.

If this sounds like you, it’s time to turn off that inner editor and just write. If you know you’ve just made a spelling or grammar mistake, leave it. If you’re stuck on a single word, come back to it later. Editing as you go disrupts the flow and will end up taking longer.  (more…)

Farther vs. Further…Is There Really a Difference?

farther_furtherWhen it comes to writing just about anything, a great deal of confusion, head shaking and fist pounding comes from the use of farther and further. It’s pretty interesting how the difference of one letter results in so much stress, but it happens every day. Sometimes, writers will even re-arrange an entire sentence so the use of farther or further is no longer necessary.

Today, we will attempt to sort out the confusion for you. When are you supposed to use each one, and is there even a difference between the two?  (more…)

7 Business Writing Blunders that Will Make You Look Foolish

Business WritingSpeeches, documents, articles, blog posts, news releases, websites, even inter-office memos are all examples of business writing. They are also prime opportunities for you to make some common business writing mistakes.

When it comes down to it, words are a crucial communications tool. Certain business writing gaffes will create the perception that your company is inexperienced, unprofessional or even foolish!

Here are 7 blunders to avoid at all costs: (more…)

Colon vs. Semi-Colon: Which One Do I Use and When?

colon vs semicolonThe colon and semi-colon are probably two of the most misused punctuation marks in the English language. They kind of look the same, their names kind of sound the same, but the functions they perform are totally different. Here’s a rundown to bring you up to speed.

The Colon

In the world of punctuation, a colon consists of one dot on top of another dot. It is often used as an introduction tool, to introduce things like lists, explanations or definitions.

With lists, the first part of the sentence tells the reader there will be a list and how many items are on it, and the second part reveals the items. “You need four things to become a successful writer: a creative mind, spelling and grammar skills, a bit of luck and patience.” (more…)